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NASA Hits the Jackpot on Its 'Rubble Return Goal'

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returned double the expected samples from asteroid Bennu
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2024 1:02 PM CST
NASA Hits the Jackpot on Its 'Rubble Return Goal'
This photo provided by NASA on Jan. 22 shows a view of eight sample trays containing the final material from asteroid Bennu.   (Erika Blumenfeld and Joseph Aebersold/NASA via AP)

NASA finally has counted up all the asteroid samples returned by a spacecraft last fall—and it's double the rubble return goal. Officials reported Thursday that the Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected 4.29 ounces of dust and pebbles from asteroid Bennu. That's just over half a cup and the biggest cosmic haul ever from beyond the moon, per the AP. It took NASA longer than expected to pry open the sample container due to stuck fasteners.

The black, carbon-rich samples—the first ever collected from an asteroid by NASA—are stored at a special curation lab at Houston's Johnson Space Center. OSIRIS-REx returned the samples last September, three years after gathering them from the asteroid. The haul for the $1 billion mission would have been greater, but rocks jammed the lid of the container following the grab and some samples floated away. The spacecraft is now on its way to another space rock, but that will involve only a flyby, with no stop for samples.

(More NASA stories.)

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