OSIRIS-REx Sample from Bennu successfully recovered

Engineers today successfully recovered the asteroid sample capsule from the probe OSIRIS-REx, carrying several grams of material from the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu.

The samples will be shipped to special facilities to protect the material from being exposed to Earth’s environment when the capsule is opened. It will take several months at least before the first research results are announced.

OSIRIS-REx, now renamed OSIRIS-APEX, now heads for the potentially dangeous asteroid Apophis, where it will orbit that asteroid beginning in 2029, shortly after Apophis makes its next close fly-by of Earth.

OSIRIS-REx makes last course correction before releasing asteroid sample return capsule

OSIRIS-REx’s engineers on September 17, 2023 successfully completed the last course correction necessary before releasing the sample return capsule carrying about nine ounces of material from the asteroid Bennu, set to land in Utah on September 24th.

The spacecraft briefly fired its thrusters Sunday to change its velocity by 7 inches per minute (3 millimeters per second) relative to Earth. This final correction maneuver moved the sample capsule’s predicted landing location east by nearly 8 miles, or 12.5 kilometers, to the center of its predetermined landing zone inside a 36-mile by 8.5-mile (58-kilometer by 14-kilometer) area on the Defense Department’s Utah Test and Training Range.

Details on that landing can be found here. The capsule will be coming in at speeds comparable to that of an Apollo capsule, returning from the Moon, and will use the same maneuvers and parachutes to slow its speed to only eleven miles per hour at landing. Four helicopters will than rush to recover the capsule as quickly as possible to reduce the chance the sample will be contaminated by the Earth’s environment.

OSIRIS-Rex (renamed OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer or OSIRIS-APEX) will meanwhile fire its engines and head towards the potentially dangerous asteroid Apophis, with a rendezvous scheduled in 2029.