January 17, 2024

Engineers finally pop open OSIRIS REx sample container

Scientists are getting access to the bulk of asteroid material collected by the spacecraft.

Osiris Opened Illustration shows OSIRIS REx sample container on its way to Earth.
NASA Illustration

Scientists are finally getting their first chance to examine most of the material OSIRIS REx brought back from the asteroid Bennu last September. Engineers were frustrated by two fasteners that kept them from accessing the contents of the spacecraft's sample return container.

University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta says the project's curation team had managed to scoop out some of the sample for analysis several weeks ago.

"We weren't really concerned about the stuck fasteners because we were able to access a large amount of the material that was inside the sample collector," he said.

Lauretta says now that the bulk of the sample is available, it can be distributed to researchers around the world waiting to run their own analysis of rocks and dust from the asteroid.

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