Who doesn't love displaying their collection of gorgeous rocks? Last week, NASA struggled with the matter for two months, and now it's sharing a look at what's inside. The space agency posted a high-resolution image of its newly opened Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) on Friday, revealing all the dust and rocks that OSIRIS-REx scraped from the asteroid's surface.
The image is large, so you can zoom in to see fine details of the specimen. Check out the full size version on . There is an abundance of material that scientists can work with, as a member of the OSIRIS-REx team They said back in September that they plan to make the most of microanalysis techniques to “really tear it apart, almost down to the atomic scale.” Asteroid Bennu, estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old, may hold clues about the formation of our solar system and how the building blocks of life first came to Earth.
Scientists have already detected signs of carbon and water in the excess material they found on the outside of TAGSAM. While they were hoping to get at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of regolith from the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx was able to get more. The team only got 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) of “extra” material accumulated on the sample devices. NASA plans to spend the next two years analyzing parts of the sample, but most of it will be preserved for future studies and shared with other scientists.