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Space jam NASA spacecraft Osiris-Rex leaking vaulable asteroid dust

The team in charge of the probe is now working to quickly stow the remaining samples that would eventually be delivered back to Earth to provide key scientific insights.

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The sampling arm of the Osiris-Rex spacecraft during a rehearsal for an approach to the Nightingale sample site on the surface of the asteroid Bennu (Nasa/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

The sampling arm of the Osiris-Rex spacecraft during a rehearsal for an approach to the Nightingale sample site on the surface of the asteroid Bennu (Nasa/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

AP/PA Images

The sampling arm of the Osiris-Rex spacecraft during a rehearsal for an approach to the Nightingale sample site on the surface of the asteroid Bennu (Nasa/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

NASA has revealed it is trying to hold onto a sample of asteroid dust it had collected with one of its spaceships after a leak developed. 

The robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex had succeeded in collecting a large sample of particles from the Bennu asteroid this week, but then the lid on the container where the fragments are being stored became loose.

The team in charge of the probe is now working to quickly stow the remaining samples that would eventually be delivered back to Earth to provide key scientific insights.

"A substantial fraction of the required collected mass is seen escaping," mission chief Dante Lauretta said in a phone briefing with journalists.

Osiris-Rex is set to come home in September 2023 with the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era, which will help unravel the origins of our solar system.

The probe is thought to have collected some 400 grams of fragments, far more than the minimum of 60 grams needed, Mr Lauretta said.

But the lid for the collector at the end of the probe's arm where the fragments are being stored has been slightly wedged open by larger rocks, creating a leak, the scientists suspect.

Sunday World


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