According to NASA, the probe's entry into the Earth's atmosphere is risky. In the last 13 minutes, the capsule will fly through the atmosphere at a speed of over 44,000 kilometers per hour and a temperature of up to 2,700 degrees Celsius.
According to NASA scientist Amy Simon, the fall of the probe is slowed down by two parachutes, whose correct deployment is crucial to avoid a “hard landing”. The target area on the ground is 58 kilometers long and 14 kilometers wide.
The Osiris-Rex probe set off to the asteroid Bennu in September 2016 and, after a four-year journey, landed on the celestial body for a few seconds in October 2020 to collect rock and dust samples. Bennu is located around 330 million kilometers from Earth and has a diameter of 500 meters.
The approximately 250 grams of material collected will help NASA "better understand the types of asteroids that could threaten Earth," said the head of the space agency, Bill Nelson. They could also provide information about the formation of the solar system. After landing, the capsule will be taken to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Only 25 percent of samples are analyzed immediately, with the rest saved for better-equipped researchers in the future.
Asteroids are made from the original material from which the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists believe the asteroid Bennu is rich in carbon and contains water molecules trapped in minerals.