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‘Touchdown’: NASA successfully grabs asteroid sample to bring back to Earth

Six seconds.

That’s about the time needed to tie your shoes.

In that same amount of time, NASA touched down on an asteroid with the OSIRIS-REx, grabbed a sample, then lifted off again.

Scientists celebrated Tuesday night after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft landed on an asteroid to collect a sample to bring back to Earth.

Four years after its launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched the surface of the ancient asteroid Bennu.

The mission is a first for NASA. Now, NASA is maneuvering the spacecraft to determine how much material was collected.

The special cargo could help answer some big questions about how our solar system formed.

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Teams spent two years studying Bennu and its rocky and dusty terrain.

The spacecraft began its descent Tuesday afternoon and its robotic arm reached out, disturbing the surface of Bennu with a small burst of nitrogen gas.

The spacecraft only touched the surface of the asteroid for about 10 seconds.

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Scientists hope the asteroid may hold clues to the formation of our solar system.

They hope to collect at least 2 ounces of material.

The mission won’t be complete until OSIRIS-REx returns to Earth in 2023 and drops its samples over the Utah desert for retrieval.

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There’s another reason for NASA’s interest in Bennu. The asteroid could take aim at the Earth late in the next century.