Crossed wires led to excessive drama as NASA returned asteroid samples to Earth

The OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule, with its main parachute nearby, shortly after landing in Utah on September 24, 2023.

Enlarge / The OSIRIS-REx pattern return capsule, with its major parachute close by, shortly after touchdown in Utah on September 24, 2023. (credit score: Keegan Barber/NASA)

This was the second Dante Lauretta had waited for almost 20 years to see. A small robotic capsule was on the best way again to Earth with rocks scooped from an asteroid, and Lauretta was desirous to get his palms on the samples.

Led by Lauretta, scientists fastidiously designed the billion-dollar mission to convey dwelling items of a carbon-rich asteroid thought to include natural molecules, the constructing blocks vital for all times to take maintain. This NASA mission, identified by the acronym OSIRIS-REx, launched from Earth in 2016, collected samples from a roughly 1,600-foot-wide (500-meter) asteroid named Bennu in 2020, then set a course for return to Earth.

On September 24, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched the canister containing the asteroid samples to plunge into the Earth’s ambiance, whereas the mothership steered onto a course to take it safely again into deep house for a follow-up mission to discover a distinct asteroid on the finish of the 2020s.

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