NASA's asteroid sampler spacecraft Osiris-Rex managed to stuff itself so full of so much asteroid dust during this week's grab-and-dash maneuver, it's now jammed open, and precious asteroid dust particles are just drifting off into space, said NASA scientists on Friday.
The news comes just three days after the Osiris-Rex spacecraft briefly touched — booped, if you will? — asteroid Bennu, to capture samples.
This is NASA's first attempt at such a mission, reports the Associated Press:
The mission's lead scientist, Dante Lauretta, said Tuesday's operation 200 million miles away collected far more material than expected for return to Earth — in the hundreds of grams. The sample container on the end of the robot arm penetrated so deeply into the asteroid and with such force, however, that rocks got sucked in and became wedged around the rim of the lid.
Scientists estimate the sampler pressed as much as 19 inches (48 centimeters) into the rough, crumbly, black terrain.
"We're almost a victim of our own success here," Lauretta said at a hastily arranged news conference.
Lauretta said there is nothing flight controllers can do to clear the obstructions and prevent more bits of Bennu from escaping, other than to get the samples into their return capsule as soon as possible.
So, the flight team was scrambling to put the sample container into the capsule as early as Tuesday — much sooner than originally planned — for the long trip home.
Read more at AP.