On October 20, 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx
spacecraft collected a sample of asteroid Bennu. The event revealed surprising details about Bennu’s surface and near-subsurface.
00:01 - One second after contact, OSIRIS-REx injected Bennu with pressurized nitrogen gas, causing an explosion of particles and driving loose material into its sample collector.
00:06 - Six seconds after contact, while it was still sinking into Bennu, OSIRIS-REx fired its thrusters to begin the back-away maneuver.
00:09 - Nine seconds after contact, thrusters on board OSIRIS-REx halted its descent into Bennu, pushing it away from the asteroid, and blasting loose material from the sample site. The spacecraft’s arm had sunk almost half a meter beneath the surface – far deeper than expected, confirming that Bennu’s surface is incredibly weak.
00:16 - Sixteen seconds after contact, the arm fully reemerged from the subsurface. OSIRIS-REx had collected a handful of material and kicked up roughly six tons of loose rock.
00:30 - Thirty seconds after contact, it shut off its thrusters and drifted away from Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will return its sample to Earth in September 2023.
Learn more about the surface properties of asteroid Bennu.