On October 20, NASA’s Osiris-Rex will come into contact with Bennu, who will try to obtain a sample of the asteroid’s surface in that contact,media reported. NASA announced the date Wednesday. It is understood that Osiris-Rex will only be in contact with Benu for about 5 seconds during the collection of the Touch-and-Go (which takes off immediately after hitting the ground, referred to as TAG).
It will emit an electric charge to shake the surface and collect samples and return to safety. If necessary, the spacecraft is ready to do so three times, but NASA hopes to make it the first.
Currently, the team has performed a ground sampling preview and will conduct another practice before the actual sample is collected. NASA had hoped to get the samples in August, but delayed the team’s option to give the team more preparation time during the new coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, delay is not a big deal for this task. “When planning tasks, we provideflexibl schedules for the Benu project to meet unexpected challenges,” says Rich Burns, Project Manager at Oriris-Rex. This flexibility allows us to adapt to the surprises that Benu brings us. Now is the time to prioritize the health and safety of team members and ships. “
If all goes according to plan, Osiris-Rex will return to Earth in 2023 with some Benu samples.