A sample return capsule carrying specimens from the carbon-rich asteroid Bennu has landed on Earth.
The capsule, released by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from space, was recovered at the Department of Defense-owned Utah Test and Training Range, seven years after it left the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Lockheed announced Sunday.
The OSIRIS-REx mission, built and operated by Lockheed Martin for NASA, was launched to extract samples of asteroids that could provide clues to planet formation and the origin of the Earth. It arrived at Bennu in December 2018 to conduct a two-year survey and collection of elements using Lockheed’s Touch and Go sample Acquisition Mechanism device.
It employed other pioneering technologies, including novel microgravity techniques and natural feature tracking, which enabled autonomous guidance to the surface of the minor planet.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be used to explore the near-Earth asteroid Apophis, as part of its extended mission phase dubbed OSIRIS-APEX.