The space dust has landed! Here's why scientists are so eager to examine asteroid dirt
Seven years ago, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx launched on a mission to the asteroid Bennu, some hundreds of millions of miles away. Its task was to gobble up a sampling of asteroid dust and return it back to Earth.
That dust returned to Earth Sunday, in the safety of a tightly sealed capsule that landed in the Utah desert. Now, scientists will examine the sample that they think may have the key to how life got started on our planet.
Jessica Barnes, a Lunar and Planetary Laboratory assistant professor the University of Arizona and member of the OSIRIS REX team, said the samples contain evidence of our cosmic history like how water was brought to our planet and how asteroids like this one formed.
“Believe it or not, a dirt sample can trap all of that history, and we're really looking forward to untangling it,” Barnes said.
Plus, with just a 24-hour notice, Firefly Aerospace successfully launched its Alpha rocket. This launch sets a new responsive record among commercial launch companies.
The CEO of Firefly Aerospace, Bill Weber, said that this mission successfully pushed his team to the limits.
“There were about a half a dozen things that under normal conditions would have caused a scrub, but the team as it was assembled had the ability to scrum, put their thoughts together, solve a problem in real time and move on without missing a beat — getting it done in that 24 hours."