Asteroid sample | “Black dust” found when opening Osiris-Rex capsule – La Presse

(Washington) NASA began opening the capsule of the Osiris-Rex mission that had been collecting asteroid pieces, announcing Tuesday that it had found “black dust and debris” inside, even before it reached the bulk of the sample had.

Posted at 7:43 p.m.

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Seven years after launch, the capsule landed on Earth on Sunday after a risky maneuver in the American desert.

NASA estimates that in 2020 it managed to collect around 250 grams of material from the asteroid Bennu – the largest asteroid sample ever collected.

At the time of this operation, the space agency discovered that the collection compartment door would not close. But the cargo could finally be secured by being transferred into the capsule as planned.

However, due to this leak, scientists expected that residue would be found outside the collection compartment in the box in which it was placed.

A first lid was opened on Tuesday in an airtight chamber at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

NASA teams then immediately “found black dust and debris,” NASA said, without saying whether they were actually parts of an asteroid.

This material will be analyzed and the “careful process of disassembling” the collection compartment will take place “to access the main sample within,” the space agency wrote.

A press conference to “unveil the sample” is planned for October 11th.

Analyzing the composition of the asteroid Bennu should allow scientists to better understand the formation of the solar system and how Earth became habitable.