First Look at the Contents of NASA's Bennu Asteroid SamplerCredit NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

First look at the contents of NASA’s Bennu Asteroid Sampler, after more than 3.5 months since the OSIRIS-REx returned them to Earth.

The NASA team in Houston has successfully taken apart the OSIRIS-REx sampler head to reveal the rest of the Bennu asteroid sample inside. On January 10, they overcame challenges to open the Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism (TAGSAM) head, capturing detailed images using precise photography.

Erika Blumenfeld and Joe Aebersold documented the open TAGSAM head with asteroid material using high-resolution photography. The next step involves removing a metal collar and transferring the remaining sample into pie-wedge trays. These trays will be photographed, weighed, packaged, and stored at Johnson Space Center.

The sample, including dust and rocks up to 0.4 inches (one cm) in size, will be cataloged, and the final mass determined in the coming weeks. The curation team has already exceeded NASA’s goal by collecting 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) of asteroid material before removing the lid.

Later this year, the curation team will release a catalog of all Bennu samples, enabling scientists worldwide to request them for research or display purposes.

Image: A top-down view of the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism (TAGSAM) head with the lid removed, revealing the remainder of the asteroid sample inside. 

source NASA