The US asteroid explorer OSIRIS-REx is on its way home, and the US space agency has announced NASA. The probe left the orbit of its mark, the asteroid Bennu yesterday.
Landing on Earth is programmed for September 2023. This will be done via parachutes in the state of Utah.
In a complex manoeuvre that took several hours, NASA landed the probe launched from Cape Canaveral in September 2016 on Bennu almost two years after arrival to collect material there. The spacecraft is now on its way to our planet with those samples, marking the first time the Americans have brought samples from an asteroid to Earth. Japan has preceded them in this.
The NASA researchers do not know precisely how many grams of material the six-meter long and 2.1-ton OSIRIS-REx has on board. They do assume that the lowest required weight, 60 grams, has been reached.
Bennu is considered an asteroid that can get close to Earth in about 150 years. Although the impact risk is low, NASA wants to examine the celestial body closely. In addition, scientists hope to learn more about the origin of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago, thanks to the approximately $ 1 billion mission.