Last October. 20, 200 million miles from an epidemic, a planet plagued by civil strife, and in America, a controversial election, NASA accomplished one of those feats that has become famous for the space agency.
A space probe called OSIRIS-REX arrived and touched a planet called Bennu and collected a small amount of clay and gravel left over from the formation of the solar system. In due course of time, OSIRIS-Rex will take this scientific treasure back to Earth, where it will be eagerly awaited by researchers.
When OSIRIIS-Rex was launched just four years ago, scientists thought Bennu’s surface was as smooth as a sandy beach. Scientists were surprised to discover that the surface of Bennu was covered with debris and rocks when the probe around the asteroid approaching Earth turned into an orbit. The plan to reach and touch the surface became a bit more complicated.
Fortunately, NASA and its academic partners were ready to act, tweeting approach technology. They chose a small, relatively safe area designated nightingale to touch and go. The maneuver was successful. NASA later determined that so much clay and gravel had been collected that some were fleeing into space. Scientists were rushing to the stove on the head of the sample before more could be lost. The capsule with the sample is scheduled to land in Utah in 2023.
Due to its high carbon content on the surface, the Bennu sample became the target of the return mission. Scientists also think that the planet has been relatively intact since the beginning of the solar system. Thus, the specimen that will be in the hands of scientists in three years can give an understanding not only of the origin of the solar system, but also of life on Earth. Rich in organic matter like carbon, the asteroid influences on young Earth would have started a long, evolutionary process that led to a world full of life, including humans.
Apollo astronauts were the first humans to bring home the Earth’s rocks and other worlds, from our moon. The first lunar rocks produced sensations 50 years ago, almost the same as the first haunting images of men walking and working on the lunar surface. Some of the moon’s stones were placed on public display at Houston’s newly built Museum of Natural Sciences, where people lined up for hours to catch a glimpse of the treasures of science.
Between the first Apollo mission and the OSIRIS-Rex, other missions brought back rock and clay from another world. The Soviets received their own moon samples courtesy of a series of Luna missions without taking. NASA has obtained samples of solar wind from a comet coma with an investigation called Genesis and a Stardust mission. Japan has obtained samples of asteroids, including one that is due to return to Hayabusa-2 in December.
With the launch to the moon in late November 2020, future sampling missions include the Chinese Chang5. Several countries, including the United States, are considering a Mars return mission. NASA has proposed that private companies collect lunar rocks for future retrieval.
The robotic sample-return mission has proved to be as impressive as any man trained as a geologist replaces anything, with the ability to reduce the history of the site at a glance and with reference to every rock and field of land. NASA plans to start sending humans back to the moon in early 2024 as part of the Artemis program. Most of what they will do, at the very least, will be to collect geographic samples at the Moon’s South Pole, thus obscuring human footprints. One difference from Apollo is the fact that Artemis astronauts will stay on the moon for a long time and thus they will be able to study the rocks and dirt collected on the site.
The same principle will be true when humans land on inter-eclipse arenas and Mars in the 2030s, which was fixed for a short time. Billions of years ago, Mars could be home to life, creating unique challenges and opportunities for scientists.
Eventually, space geologists will explore the other world, not only for science, but also for profit. The moon and asteroids include numerous mineral resources, industrial metals, rare earths and others, which will eventually serve as the foundation of the space-based industrial industrial revolution. Thus, science will engage in commerce for the betterment of all mankind.
Mark Whitting, a frequent writer on space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration, why is it so difficult? As well as “Moon, Mars and Beyond.” Blogs on Total Carmudgens Corner. They have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, LA Times and Washington Post, among other places.