Researchers from US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have discovered solar-wind hydrogen in lunar samples, which indicates that water on the surface of the moon may provide a vital resource for future lunar bases and longer-range space exploration.
In a major scientific breakthrough, NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission was a success after a capsule carrying sample of rock and dust from Bennu returned to Earth safely. The capsule landed in the Utah Desert from where NASA’s recovery team collected the asteroid samples it carried.
“After a journey of nearly 3.9 billion miles, the #OSIRISREx asteroid sample return capsule is back on Earth. Teams perform the initial safety assessment—the first persons to come into contact with this hardware since it was on the other side of the solar system,” NASA said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
TOUCHDOWN! The #OSIRISREx sample capsule landed at the Utah Test and Training Range at 10:52am ET (1452 UTC) after a 3.86-billion mile journey. This marks the US’s first sample return mission of its kind and will open a time capsule to the beginnings of our solar system. pic.twitter.com/N8fun14Plt
— NASA (@NASA) September 24, 2023
The capsule was attached to the NASA’s OSIRISREx spacecraft and was released earlier in the day after containing a piece of asteroid Bennu. The capsule then plummeted through space for four hours before entering the atmosphere over California and landed about 13 minutes later in Utah.
The samples of Asteroid Bennu will be shared among other space agencies of the world. While 4 per cent of the sample will go to the Canadian space agency, Japan will also get about 0.5 per cent of the rock and dust collected from the asteroid. Scientists from space agencies of other countries will also be able to ask for the material in order to study it. Some of it will be stored in a lab in New Maxico.
Bennu is considered to be the most dangerous asteroid in our solar system. It is a carbonaceous asteroid and has nearly 10 per cent carbon of its total mass. With the mission, NASA is hoping to find answers of how and when life started on Earth.