NASA’s Sample Retrieval Capsule (SRC) from the OSIRIS-REx mission has successfully landed in the Utah desert and the process of unsealing and removing the samples has begun. The samples were transferred to the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate (ARES) in Houston, Texas on Monday. ARES houses the world’s largest collection of samples returned from space and has a special clean room built exclusively for the OSIRIS-REx mission.
The first step in the process involved removing the aluminum lid that protected the Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. This component was used by the OSIRIS-REx robotic arm to collect rocks and dust from asteroid Bennu’s surface in October 2020. The next step will be separating the TAGSAM from the canister and placing it in a sealed transfer container that will preserve it in a nitrogen environment for approximately two hours. This will allow the curation team to insert the TAGSAM into another glovebox, ensuring that the samples are not contaminated by contact with lab hardware or Earth’s environment.
During the removal of the lid, NASA scientists discovered “black dust and debris” on the avionics decks of the canister. It is speculated that this dust and debris is part of the Bennu sample that escaped during retrieval or transport back to Earth. The final step, the removal of the sample, will be broadcasted live on October 11th at 11 AM EDT.
For more updates, viewers can follow NASA Live or visit the NASA Blogs page dedicated to the OSIRIS-REx mission.
– NASA Blogs