At 6:08 p.m. ET, NASA received a signal from the Osiris-Rex spacecraft that it had successfully taken soil samples from asteroid Bennu. After 6 seconds of contact with the surface of a celestial body, Osiris-Rex again rushed into space with a precious cargo on board.
The Osiris-Rex mission began 4 years ago. To reach the asteroid, the spacecraft covered a distance of 319 million kilometers. Bennu is a tiny space body only half a kilometer in size. The excavation operation was carried out in a crater 21 meters in diameter in its northern part.
The data transfer rate at the time of the video broadcast was 40 bps, which is absolutely not enough for streaming. Nevertheless, the probe took pictures of its work and now it is possible to assemble a full-fledged time-lapse of the operation from them.
The SamCam thermal imager took images every 1.25 seconds, which gave scientists a better understanding of the work of Osiris-Rex. The video below is taken from 82 images captured over 5 minutes, starting at 25 meters above the surface until contact with the ground, after which the engines started and rebounded to a height of 13 meters.
Scientists hope that the Osiris-Rex mission was able to collect about 60 grams of asteroid regolith, which will arrive on Earth in three years. They also expect that the study of its chemical composition will help develop a strategy for preventing collisions of asteroids with the Earth and explore the possibility of mining on them.