NASA said Thursday its robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex was able to stow a rock and dust sample scooped up from the asteroid Bennu, after a flap that had wedged open put the mission at risk.
“We are here to announce today that we’ve successfully completed that operation,” said Rich Burns, the mission’s project manager.
The probe is on a mission to collect fragments that scientists hope will help unravel the origins of our solar system, but hit a snag after it picked up too big of a sample.
Fragments from the asteroid’s surface in a collector at the end of the probe’s three-meter (10-foot) arm had been slowly escaping into space because some rocks prevented the compartment from closing completely.
That arm is what came into contact with Bennu for a few seconds last Tuesday in the culmination of a mission launched from Earth some four years ago.
On Thursday, NASA said it had been able a day earlier to maneuver the robotic arm holding the leaking particles to a storage capsule near the center of the spacecraft, drop off the sample and close the capsule’s lid.
It was a delicate two-day procedure, requiring the team at each step to assess images and data from the previous step.
The probe is 200 million miles (320 million kilometers) away, so it takes 18.5 minutes for its transmissions to reach Earth, and any signal from the control room requires the same amount of time to reach Osiris-Rex.
“My heart breaks for loss of sample,” said Dante Lauretta, the mission’s chief scientist, but he noted that they had successfully stowed hundreds of grams (several ounces) of fragments, far in excess of their minimum goal.
“Now we can look forward to receiving the sample here on Earth and opening up that capsule,” he said.
Osiris-Rex is set to come home in September 2023, hopefully with the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era.
© 2020 AFP
Armed ‘sovereign citizen extremist’ arrested at Boston train station: report
Authorities in Boston arrested an armed extremist at a train station on Thanksgiving.
"A Boston man was arrested last night and charged with illegally carrying a loaded pistol. The defendant, who allegedly purchased a firearm and body armor, and material that could be used to assemble explosives, adheres to the anti-government/anti-authority sovereign citizen extremist ideology," the Department of Justice announced Friday. "Pepo Herd El a/k/a Pepo Wamchawi Herd (El), 47, of Dorchester, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition."
Texas Republican hasn’t even been sworn in yet and already a GOP congressman is publicly dunking on him
There was some drama on Twitter on Friday when a four-term Republican congressman dunked on a Texas Republican who won a seat in Congress but has yet to be sworn in.
It started when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) urged President Donald Trump to pardon Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.
Rep.-elect Tony Gonzales (R-TX) called out Gabbard for being "full of more than just turkey."
Biden’s lead in Milwaukee increases after Trump blew millions on Wisconsin recount: report
President-elect Joe Biden's lead over Donald Trump in Wisconsin extended on Friday as Milwaukee finished their recount.
The Trump campaign had to pay $3 million for the recount in Wisconsin.
"Milwaukee County concludes its recount of the presidential election -- one of two counties where Trump sought a recount in Wisconsin. The results: Biden's lead, currently at about 20,000 statewide, grew by 132 votes," Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post reported Friday.
Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic did a quick, back-of-the-envelope economic analysis.