Digital Originals

published : 2023-09-28

NASA Uncovers Surprising Findings Inside Space Capsule Carrying Asteroid Samples

NASA to Reveal Sample in Exciting Livestream Event

An image showcasing the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during its launch in September 2016, capturing the excitement and anticipation of embarking on a monumental mission to collect samples from the carbon-rich asteroid Bennu. (Taken with a Canon EOS-1DX Mark III)

In a groundbreaking discovery, NASA scientists have made an astonishing find beyond mere rocks in a space capsule that recently returned with samples from an asteroid. Black dust and debris were discovered on the avionics deck of the canister, containing the first-ever deep space asteroid sample captured in U.S. history.

This remarkable revelation came to light when the aluminum lid of the canister was removed by the scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, has successfully completed its seven-year-long journey, collecting samples from the carbon-rich asteroid Bennu using a specialized vacuum.

Although some of the sample's contents were regrettably lost due to a jammed door after collection, the remaining cup of rubble from Bennu has immense scientific potential. Scientists have long speculated on the significance of asteroids like Bennu in shaping our planet's habitability. Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx, believes that these celestial bodies might have played a crucial role in delivering essential components, such as ocean water, atmospheric molecules, and even organic materials that could have sparked the origin of life on Earth.

A close-up photo of the black dust and debris found on the avionics deck of the space capsule, offering a glimpse into the intriguing composition of the asteroid sample. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

Bennu, labeled the most 'potentially hazardous' asteroid in our solar system, holds a mere 0.05% chance of colliding with Earth in the late 2100s. The retrieval of this asteroid sample, a feat accomplished solely by Japan so far, marks a momentous achievement for both NASA and the scientific community at large.

The painstaking process of analyzing the captured sample is about to commence. Curation experts will skillfully disassemble the Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) to access the precious cargo inside. A dedicated laboratory, purposefully designed for the OSIRIS-REx mission, will be the setting for this intricate task.

It is no wonder that the level of precision and focus surrounding the unveiling of the sample is incredibly high. Delicate hardware removal will be executed with utmost care, ensuring that there is no contamination of the sample. Once the TAGSAM is separated from the canister, it will be placed in a sealed transfer container, maintaining a nitrogen environment for up to two hours.

A stunning image of the TAGSAM mechanism being skillfully disassembled by NASA curation experts in the dedicated laboratory, providing a visual representation of the meticulous process involved in accessing the precious cargo inside. (Taken with a Sony Alpha A7R IV)

Following this, the TAGSAM will make its way into a specially designed 'glovebox.' Within this controlled environment, scientists and engineers will be able to handle the sample and the necessary equipment without compromising their integrity.

The anticipation surrounding this momentous occasion is palpable. NASA has announced that the spectacular reveal of the sample will be streamed live on their website. Viewers around the world will have the opportunity to witness this historic event on October 11th at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

As NASA prepares to share this extraordinary discovery with the world, the impact of these findings will undoubtedly resonate with all who witness this remarkable achievement. The future is bright as we uncover the secrets of our universe, one celestial body at a time.