OSIRIS-REx spacecraft set to take Bennu asteroid sample

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NASA's OSIRIS-REx successfully stretched out its robotic arm for the first time in space, as it readies to take a sample from the asteroid Bennu.

According to NASA, the OSIRIS-REx is an asteroid study and sample-return mission which launched from Cape Canaveral on September 8, 2016.

The spacecraft is expected to reach the near-Earth asteroid Bennu on December 3, and will then prepare to collect a surface sample in July 2020.

It will use the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM, an 11-foot robotic arm with three articulating joints, a round sampler head, and three bottles of high-pressure nitrogen gas.

Once the arm is unfurled and touches the asteroid surface, nitrogen gas is blasted out to stir up regolith, or loose dirt and rocks, which will then be caught by the sampler head.

The entire process will take about five seconds. Collected particles will be stored in a canister with nitrogen allowed to escape, leaving between 60 and 200 grams of material.

Once sampling is complete, and the material safe inside a heatproof Sample Return Capsule, the OSIRIS-REx will execute small maneuvers to back away from Bennu.

The spacecraft will then journey back to Earth and eject the capsule just outside Earth's atmosphere, to land in the Utah desert in September 2023.

Bennu is roughly 4.5 billion years old, and as an ancient relic of our solar system's early days, scientists believe it could shed light on how that system was formed.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. OSIRIS-REx spacecraft
2. OSIRIS-REx reaching asteroid Bennu
3. Parts of OSIRIS-REx's robotic TAGSAM arm
4. Nitrogen gas blasted on asteroid surface, debris collected by sampler head
5. 60 to 200 grams of material collected by the instrument
6. Sample stored in capsule, OSIRIS-REx maneuvers away from Bennu
7. Spacecraft goes back to Earth, capsule lands in Utah in 2023

VOICEOVER (in English):

"The OSIRIS-REx is an asteroid study and sample-return mission which launched from Cape Canaveral on September 8, 2016."

"The spacecraft is expected to reach the near-Earth asteroid Bennu on December 3, and will then prepare to collect a surface sample in July 2020."

"To do so, it will use the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, an 11-foot robotic arm with three articulating joints, a sampler head, and three bottles of high-pressure nitrogen gas."

"Once the arm is unfurled and touches the asteroid surface, nitrogen gas is blasted out to stir up regolith, or loose dirt and rocks, which will then be caught by the sampler head."

"The entire process will take about five seconds. Collected particles will be stored in a canister with nitrogen allowed to escape, leaving between 60 and 200 grams of material.."

"Once sampling is complete, and the material safe inside a heatproof Sample Return Capsule, the OSIRIS-REx will execute small maneuvers to back away from Bennu."

"The spacecraft will then journey back to Earth and eject the capsule just outside Earth's atmosphere, to land in the Utah desert in September 2023."

SOURCES:
NASA, University of Arizona
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/tagsam-testing-complete-osiris-rex-prepared-to-tag-an-asteroid
https://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex
https://www.asteroidmission.org/where-is-the-spacecraft/