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NASA has finally opened up $1,000,000,000 asteroid
Featured Image Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images / NASA/Robert Markowiz

NASA has finally opened up $1,000,000,000 asteroid

It landed back on Earth over three months ago

NASA scientists are celebrating a huge win after finally opening up a $1,000,000,000 asteroid sample.

In a massive development, experts have got into the capsule containing OSIRIS-REx’s asteroid Bennu sample material, over three months after it landed back on Earth.

Scientists have had to follow very strict guidance in how they opened the capsule due to how specially designed it was.

Because of a completely sterile environment, only certain tools were allowed inside.

As a result, the bolts holding the lid together had become stuck, meaning the team couldn't just go in and brake it open with any tool to hand.

So, the experts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston spent weeks designing new multi-part tools, which have thankfully done the trick.

Following this breakthrough, steps are now underway to complete the disassembly of the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head.

This will hopefully reveal the rest of the rocks and dust delivered by NASA's asteroid sample return mission.

Eileen Stansbery, a division chief at the Johnson Space Centre, said: "Our engineers and scientists have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for months to not only process the more than 70g of material we were able to access previously, but also design, develop, and test new tools that allowed us to move past this hurdle.

"The innovation and dedication of this team has been remarkable. We are all excited to see the remaining treasure OSIRIS-REx holds."

NASA now has access to the asteroid sample.
Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Dr Nicole Lunning, OSIRIS-REx curator at Johnson, added: "In addition to the design challenge of being limited to curation-approved materials to protect the scientific value of the asteroid sample, these new tools also needed to function within the tightly-confined space of the glovebox, limiting their height, weight, and potential arc movement.

"The curation team showed impressive resilience and did incredible work to get these stubborn fasteners off the TAGSAM head so we can continue disassembly. We are overjoyed with the success."

Asteroid Bennu.

It comes after scientists gave NASA an urgent warning that it could 'destroy' the Moon with its current plans.

Astronomers are worried that the unrestricted rush to exploit the Moon could cause irreparable damage to vital scientific sites - such as craters.

Astronomer Professor Richard Green, from the University of Arizona, said: "We are not trying to block the building of lunar bases.

"However, there are only a handful of promising sites there and some of these are incredibly precious scientifically.

"We need to be very, very careful where we build our mines and bases.”

Topics: NASA, Space