The team responsible for the detection is now working to quickly store the remaining samples, which will eventually be sent back to Earth to provide key scientific insights.
Task leader Dante Lauretta said in a telephone briefing with reporters: “A large part of the required collection materials are escaping.”
OSIRIS-REx will return home in September 2023. Hopefully this is the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era, which will help clarify the origin of our solar system.
Laureta said that the probe is believed to have collected about 400 grams of debris, far exceeding the minimum required 60 grams of debris.
Scientists suspect, but the collector cover at the end of the probe arm used to store the debris has been slightly wedged away by the larger rock, causing a leak.
Due to the microgravity environment, the debris behaves like a fluid. Five to ten grams have been observed around the collection arm, and the cloud remains more or less in the cloud.
Laureta said: “What I am most worried about now is that these particles are escaping, because we are almost the victims of our own success here.”
As a result, the plan to conduct quality measurements on Saturday was cancelled because it may distribute more samples.
The task now is to minimize spacecraft activities and prepare to load materials into the probe capsule as soon as possible.
NASA Deputy Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement: “Bennu continues to surprise us with amazing science and also throws some curveballs.”
“Although we may have to act faster to store samples, this is not a bad problem. We are very happy to see that such a wealth of samples will inspire scientific inspiration decades after this historic moment.”
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