After finally removing the last two fasteners from the canister and nearly 4 months after it was dropped by OSIRIS-REx in the Utah desert, the curation team at NASA has finally revealed the remaining sample of the asteroid Bennu.
The last two fasteners were removed on January 10, allowing the team to complete the final steps to unlock the Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism (TAGSAM) head and finally provide access to the rest of the sample. Before removing the lid, the team had already collected 70.3 grams (2.48 ounces) of asteroid material.
Erica Blumenfeld, Creative Lead of Astro Materials' Advanced Imaging and Visualization Group, and Joe Ebersold, Project Leader, took the photo above, using manual high-resolution precision photography and a semi-automatic focus stacking process to provide a more detailed, top-down view of the sample. .
The next step for the curation team was to remove the metal collar around the canister and fabricate a glove box used to transfer the sample from the TAGSAM head to the sample trays. The plates are then photographed and weighed before being packaged and stored at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
It's been a long road to get to this point. OSIRIS-REx successfully dropped the capsule containing the Bennu sample in September 2023, but trying to get inside the capsule was trickier than expected. Two fasteners couldn't be removed, so the team had to come up with a new game plan. Finally, on January 10 this year, the issue was resolved.
“Our engineers and scientists have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for months to design, develop and test new instruments that allow us to overcome this barrier, not only with access to more than 70 grams of material we previously had access to, but also to overcome this barrier,” said Elaine, ARES (Astronomical Objects Research and Exploration Sciences) Division Chief at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Stansbury said. Report.
“The innovation and dedication of this team is remarkable. We are all excited to see the rest of the treasure OSIRIS-REx hold.
Although part of the model is already available to the public, it will be some time before we know the full details of what the model tells us about asteroid Bennu. The coming weeks will give the team an opportunity to assess the final mass of the sample, which has already surpassed their goal of 60 grams (2.12 ounces). A list of all Bennu models is expected to be released later this year.