The sample collection process was a carefully coordinated dance. The OSIRIS-REx extended a 2 meter (6.6 ft) TAGSAM robotic arm with an attached 30 cm (1 ft) wide sampling head and folded solar panels to protect it. The probe then slowly approached the surface and eventually reached within 1 meter (3.3 feet) of the selected object. The whole process was monitored with a SamCam imaging camera mounted over the arm.
The camera shows the TAGSAM head hitting Bennu’s surface at just 0.2 mph after approaching and penetrating Legolis. First it breaks down the porous rock below, and after the second fires a bottle of nitrogen gas. NASA says this has resulted in some “large sample site material”. It took about 5-6 seconds to collect the data, most of which were collected in the first 3 seconds.
The head is designed to hold and hold the whipped surface material. OSIRIS-REx first checks for the presence of Legolis by taking a picture of the collector head, and then on Saturdays it measures the mass of stones and dust by rotating the shaft like a centrifuge.
NASA said that the sampling “goes well as we thought” because the sampling crushed a lot of material that had to be collected in the sample chamber. Scientists have already learned a lot about Bennu by watching shock footage, but before seeing how the spacecraft was actually made, you have to wait three years for the spacecraft to return to Earth.
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