What’s Inside Asteroid Bennu? NASA Has Just Opened the Sample Capsule

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Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, aka TAGSAM, is the name of the robotic arm that OSIRIS REx used to reach out and retrieve a pile of soil from the asteroid Bennu. This dirt was brought back to Earth in late September after an epic seven-year voyage. There are plenty of Bennu particles inside the container, and the external surface of the sample gathering head is a little trickier than the team thought it would be. According to a recent NASA statement, the initial sample curation is proceeding more slowly than anticipated, but for the most excellent of reasons!

NASA estimates that there are 250 grams of dust from Bennu waiting to be extracted from the TAGSAM head, but the extraction process will require a bit more time. In order to disassemble the device without putting anyone’s safety at risk, the capsule will be transferred over the next few weeks to a new, more advanced glove box. Isn’t this exciting?!

A compilation of pictures indicating how TAGSAM gathered dirt on Asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona, Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a lot of abundant material outside the TAGSAM head that’s interesting in its own right. It’s really spectacular to have all that material there, stated Christopher Snead, deputy OSIRIS-REx curation lead of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The head of TAGSAM was placed into the sample capsule and then sealed up before being delivered to Earth by OSIRIS-REx as it passed by on its way to another asteroid. This preliminary investigation utilizes techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and infrared measurements. In a couple of days, on October 11, at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, NASA will have a news conference to disclose the results, and they will also show the first photographs of the sample at that time. Make sure you stay tuned for more intriguing details!

Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.