Finally, Let’s Look at the Asteroid Treasure Returned to Earth by OSIRIS-REx

A top-down view of the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism (TAGSAM) head with the lid removed, revealing the remainder of the asteroid sample inside. Photo: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx delivered its precious cargo to Earth on September 24th, 2023. The sample from asteroid Bennu is contained inside the spacecraft’s sampling head, and it’s in safe hands at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Two stubborn fasteners delayed the opening of the sampling head, but they’ve been removed, and now we can see inside.

What looks like unremarkable dirt is primordial asteroidal material that’s billions of years old, a natural treasure trove that eager scientists can’t wait to begin studying.

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Researchers Are Building a Simulated Moon/Mars Research Station Deep Underground

These images show the first laboratory in the Bio-SPHERE project. The medical lab is located 1 km under the surface, near one of the UK's deepest mine sites. Image Credit: Dr. Alexandra Iordachescu/University of Birmingham.

In the early days of spaceflight, just getting a satellite into Earth’s orbit was an accomplishment. In our era, landing rovers on other planets and bringing samples home from asteroids is the cutting edge. But the next frontier is rapidly approaching, when astronauts will stay for long periods of time on the Moon and hopefully Mars.

But before we can send people to those dangerous environments, the Artemis partner space agencies have to know how to keep them safe. An important part of that is simulating the conditions on the Moon and Mars.

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