“We have successfully completed the operation,” NASA project manager Rich Burns said in a conference call. Last Tuesday, the arm of the probe touched Bino for a few seconds and collected a large amount of dust and gravel from its surface, but the door of the room designated for its storage was no longer closed, which led to some of them flying into space, which endangered the mission that began in 2016.
High-quality images sent by “OSIERS-REX” showed that the arm slowly transferred its cargo, in a process that took about 36 hours, to a capsule in the middle of the probe, and the cap of the capsule was closed tightly.
In March 2021, “Oasis-Rex” begins its journey back to Earth, carrying the samples, and will land in the Utah desert on September 24, 2023.
And prompted the storage incident, “NASA” to cancel the process of measuring the mass of samples by rotating the probe, for fear that it would lead to the leakage of more collected fragments.
Project leader Dante Loretta said “dozens of sample fines” had been leaked. However, he confirms that at least 400 grams are now stored safely, according to the photos, and inevitably much more.
“We probably have more than a kilogram,” he added. He pointed out that the process of collecting samples showed that the surface of the asteroid is covered with a layer of several meters thick “incoherent” grains due to the very weak gravity.
It is believed that the probe entered 48 cm into the surface of the asteroid upon its descent without encountering any obstacles.
Loretta added that any astronaut trying to walk on Benno “will sink to his knees and maybe more.”
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