NASA’s first asteroid lands in Utah – level 3

29-09-2023 07:00

A NASA space capsule carrying the largest soil sample ever scooped up from the surface of an asteroid streaked through Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday and parachuted into the Utah desert.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule, released from the robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx as the mothership passed within 107,826 km of Earth hours earlier, touched down within a designated landing zone west of Salt Lake City on the US military’s vast Utah Test and Training Range. The final descent and landing capped a six-year joint mission between NASA and the University of Arizona. It was only the third asteroid sample, and by far the biggest, ever returned to Earth for analysis, following two similar missions by Japan’s space agency in 2010 and 2020.

After some doubt about whether a preliminary parachute was properly deployed, the main parachute unfurled as planned, bringing the capsule to a soft and nearly flawless landing.

Difficult words: scoop up (to lift something with your hands or arms quickly), unfurl (to release something rolled or folded), flawless (perfect).

You can watch the video news lower on this page.

What techniques were used to ensure the capsule touched down safely in the Utah desert?


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