After nearly two years of rotation around the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully landed on it and used a robotic arm to collect soil samples from the surface.
They will be delivered to Earth in 2023.
For this historic event, a van-sized NASA spacecraft briefly touched the surface with a manipulator at a landing site called the Nightingale, the width of which is comparable to a few parking spaces.
The weight of the collected samples can range from 50 grams to 2 kilograms. After that, the device took off again and retired to a safe distance.
Everything went perfectly according to the data sent to Earth, said Dante Loretta, the mission’s chief investigator and professor at the Moon and Planet Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona. He said he felt “extraordinary” and his team was “excited” after receiving the data.