Specialists from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the US Space Center. Johnson in Houston completed work on removing the lid of a container with soil samples from the asteroid Bennu. These samples were brought to Earth during the seven-year OSIRIS-Rex mission, which ended last September.
Image source: Erika Blumenfeld/Joseph Aebersold/NASA
In the middle of this month, NASA specialists were finally able to remove the jammed bolts, which allowed them to open the lid of the container with soil.. However, they did not immediately remove it, since they first needed to create optimal conditions in the box. Now experts have removed the lid of the container, thereby opening access to soil samples.
Later, the team will remove the ring-shaped metal base of the container and prepare a glove box to transfer the remaining soil samples into special storage trays. The trays will be photographed, weighed and packaged for storage at the center, which houses the most extensive collection of astromaterials in the world.
The final mass of soil samples delivered to Earth will be determined in the next few weeks. NASA specialists have already managed to collect 70.3 g of soil before the container lid was opened, which is more than the 60 g that was originally supposed to be collected as part of the OSIRIS-Rex mission. NASA will also later release a catalog of all material samples from asteroid Bennu, allowing scientists and institutions around the world to submit requests to study or exhibit the materials.