The team aboard the international space station OSIRIS-REx moved the date of the first procedure of soil sampling from the asteroid Bennu from August to mid-October 2020. This is due to the need for more careful preparation for it, as well as restrictions related to the pandemic coronavirus, reported on the website NASA.
Automatic interplanetary station OSIRIS-REx is designed for collecting soil samples from near-earth asteroid (101955) Bennu and its delivery to Earth. This will allow you to discover the substance of the asteroid class, which could remain untouched since the formation of the Solar system, and compare it with the soil already studied asteroids of other types. The main work site on Bennu is the area of “the Nightingale”, which is located inside the 70-meter crater, the reserve area designated area “Osprey”, is located inside a 20 metre crater in the Equatorial parts of the asteroid. Earlier this year the station has made similar flights over future places of work, and in April held the first rehearsal of the procedure of soil sampling.
Initially, the first attempt of soil sampling from the “Nightingale” was scheduled for August 25, 2020, but the need for more thorough preparations, and limitation of the operations and the decrease in the number of specialists in the field, in connection with the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, forced the project team to move this operation on 20 October 2020. The second rehearsal of soil sampling, in which OSIRIS-REx will fall to the level of 40 meters from the surface of Bennu, also moved, now she needs to be held June 23 and August 11.
In all, OSIRIS-REx will have three attempts to take the soil sample from Bennu using the system TAGSAM (Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism). However, if the machine will be able to recruit a sufficient quantity of the substance of the asteroid (about 60 grams) during the first surgery, then more attempts will not be made. The station needs to leave the orbit of Bennu in the middle of 2021 and to deliver the capsule with the ground to Earth September 24, 2023. After passing through the atmosphere the capsule will release a parachute and landed on the ground in Utah, and then will be delivered to the Johnson Space center in Houston.
That scientists have learned about Bennu due to the station can be read in our article “celestial body diamond shape”.