NASA Capsule Carrying Samples of Asteroid Successfully Lands on Earth

A capsule containing asteroid soil from 200 million miles away touched down in Utah at 8:52 am Mountain time Sunday, carrying potential insights into the origin of life.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer), successfully brought back a sample of material from the approximately 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid Bennu.

The spacecraft released the sample capsule, holding approximately 8.8 ounces of asteroid material, from a height of 63,000 miles above Earth, while cruising at a velocity of roughly 27,650 miles per hour.

The collected sample will be distributed to global labs, including partners like the Canadian Space Agency and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. Approximately 70% will be preserved for future, more advanced analysis.

NASA's mission commenced in September 2016. It reached the Bennu asteroid in December 2018. In October 2022, it collected samples and began the return journey on May 10, 2021.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx marks its first asteroid sample collection, while JAXA boasts two missions: Hayabusa 1, which collected from Itokawa in 2010, and Hayabusa 2, which returned Ryugu samples in 2020.

Following its mission, OSIRIS-REx continues its journey, heading towards asteroid Apophis, an approximately 1,200-foot-wide near-Earth asteroid, expected to pass within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029.