An asteroid sample stowed inside a NASA spacecraft is about to reach Earth. It was collected from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and since traveled for nearly 2½ years across space. It will drops down into the Utah desert on September 24. The OSIRIS-REx mission – which has been on a seven-year journey – will drop off the sample of rocks and soil and will continue on its journey to study another asteroid, Apophis, for a rendezvous in 2029. The capsule containing the sample will enter Earth’s atmosphere at 10:42 a.m. ET, traveling about 27,650 miles per hour (44,498 kilometers per hour). The capsule will be released when OSIRIS-REx is 63,000 miles (102,000 kilometers) from Earth.Parachutes will deploy to slow the capsule down for a gentle touchdown .
It is estimated that OSIRIS-REx collected up to 8.8 ounces, or about 1 cup, of material from Bennu. Years of hard work by thousands of people have led to the moment when the Bennu sample arrives on Earth. The team has prepared for different landing scenarios. “The asteroids that we have in our solar system today are left over from the earliest stage of solar system history,” scietists revealed. The rocks and soil could reveal insights about the beginning of our solar system. Details about the sample will be revealed to the public through a NASA broadcast from Johnson on October 11.