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US spacecraft touches surface of asteroid in Assignment to Catch rock sample

A NASA spacecraft successfully made a short stop within an asteroid 200 million kilometers from Earth to gather a sample from the surface, officials have confirmed.

“Touchdown announced,” a flight control declared to cheers and applause early on Wednesday.

The Osiris-Rex craft was trying to collect a small number of rubble in the asteroid Bennu, which scientists state comprises the building blocks of our solar system.

It dropped from orbit on Tuesday and started a four and half hour descent into the boulder-covered outermost layer of the area rock.

But it might be a week until scientists understand just how far, if anything, has been grabbed and whether a second attempt is going to be necessary.

“I can not believe we pulled off this,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta at the this University of Arizona.

“The spacecraft did whatever it was supposed to perform.”

This was the USA’s initial mission to collect samples from an asteroid, something Japan has achieved twice.

The coronavirus pandemic had led to a two-month delay at the effort.

It was not meant for Osiris-Rex to creating a landing since Bennu is a little at only 510 meters around and its gravity is too low.

Instead, the strategy has been for the spacecraft to reach out using a robotic arm and also gather involving 60 g and two kilograms of substance.

After almost two decades past Bennu, the spacecraft chose a place containing the largest patch of particles small enough to be consumed.

Such Osiris-Rex’s distance which the mission was over at the time flight controls nearby Denver, Colorado discovered it had started: it requires 18 and a half an hour for radio signals to travel between Bennu and Earth.

The assignment, which cost over $675 million, also began with a launching back in 2016.