Watch OSIRIS-REx bite off the surface of the asteroid Bennu

Osiris-Rex Probe Likely Successfully Collected Asteroid Fragments NASA Believes

"Preliminary data show the spacecraft spent approximately 5 of the 6 seconds of contact collecting surface material, and the majority of sample collection occurred within the first 3 seconds". After just a few seconds, the spacecraft would execute the go part of the touch-and-go maneuver, backing away with its sample secured.

NASA recently revealed that parts of another asteroid, Vesta, have been spotted on the surface of Bennu.

So, while this sample collection maneuver was taking place, the mission team was just as much a spectator group as the viewing audience.

During the manoeuvre, the spacecraft extended a robotic arm with a sampling mechanism known as TAGSam.

A NASA spacecraft on Tuesday conducted the US space agency's first sample collection from an asteroid as part of a seven-year-long voyage.

Originally, scientists believed that Bennu was a smooth rock and that they'd have no problem collecting a sample.

It takes about four hours to descend to the surface of the pen, about the time it takes for the asteroid to create a complete revolution.

On a more practical side, Bennu will serve as a case study for future space travel. The second, Hayabusa2, has collected samples from the asteroid Ryugu, and those are coming to Earth in December of this year.

The probe will send back images of the sample collection on Wednesday and throughout the week so scientists can examine how much material was retrieved and determine whether the probe will need to make another collection attempt. First it breaks down the porous rock below, and after the second fires a bottle of nitrogen gas.

For close to two years, Osiris-Rex has been orbiting a large asteroid, named Bennu, more than 100 million miles away from Earth, waiting to spring into action. "So we have to go between the boulders to get our sample, and a lot of planning went into that".

Osiris-Rex Probe Likely Successfully Collected Asteroid Fragments NASA Believes

Editor's note: Osiris-Rex touches Benu.

If it was, the sample will be brought to Earth for scientific analysis.

Several studies were published on the matter in the journals Science and Science Advances, noting that carbon-bearing, organic material is "widespread" on the surface of the asteroid.

"A piece of primordial rock that has witnessed our Solar System's entire history may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discovery, and we can't wait to see what comes next".

Scientists are already anticipating what they could learn from the returned sample. This means that the material gathered by OSIRIS-REx will be some of the most pristine material on the asteroid.

"One of the prime goals of the mission is to understand the origins of the solar system and life on Earth, and the role asteroids may have played in delivering life-forming compounds on Earth", said Jamie Elsila, a research scientist at Goddard, during Monday's press conference.

Bennu is roughly 4.5 billion years old.

The US space agency NASA has achieved a new milestone.

Cutting-edge instruments in labs on Earth will be used to analyze portions of the sample.

On September 24, 2023, Osiris-Rex plans to dismantle its model revenue capsule, which will land in the Utah Desert and be recovered for exploration.