The American probe OSIRIS-REx approached the asteroid Bennu and took soil samples from its surface. It happened at 01:12 (Moscow time). It is now located 320 million kilometers from Earth.
In order to collect samples, on the asteroid, in the northern part, a point in the crater with a diameter of about 20 meters was predetermined. The total diameter of Bennu is about 500 meters.
The entire rapprochement operation lasted over four hours. All this time, OSIRIS-REx was gradually approaching Bennu’s surface.
The back-away burn is complete 🛑✅ I'm now moving to a safe distance away from Bennu. pic.twitter.com/bXk2ufSneS
The contact with the asteroid itself lasted only 16 seconds: the rod with a special device for collecting soil touched the surface. At this moment, one of the nitrogen capsules emitted a cloud of compressed gas, under the influence of which the soil particles settled on the inner surface of the device.
Scientists suggest that some parts of the asteroid may have appeared before the solar system. Soil exploration will shed light on this conjecture, as well as on how life began on Earth.