OSIRIS-REx Samples Bennu

OSIRIS-REx sample collectionNASA’s OSIRIS-REx robotic spacecraft successfully gathers a generous sample of the surface regolith of asteroid 101955 Bennu on its first attempt, with some of the material estimated to originate from as deep as 49 centimeters beneath Bennu’s surface. (This result indicates that the asteroid’s surface is much softer and more pliable than expected.) The touchdown point was selected in conjunction with volunteer citizen scientists searching for safe places to gather a sample, and ruling out potential touchdown sites that appeared to be too hazardous. Intended to gather a minimum of 60 grams of material from Bennu, OSIRIS-REx is believed to have exceeded that minimum by a wide margin, and approval is given to stow the sample in its return container a week ahead of schedule. OSIRIS-REx will remain in Bennu’s orbit until March 2021, at which time it will fire its engines to begin its journey to return the samples of asteroid matter to Earth in September 2023.