University of Arizona scientists celebrate OSIRIS-REx capsule landing safely in Utah

Published: Sep. 24, 2023 at 11:37 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The OSIRIS-REx capsule’s return to Earth was a successful Sunday morning.

From the Michael J. Drake building on the outskirts of the University of Arizona’s campus, honoring the man who developed the concept of the OSIRIS-REx mission, team members watched their calculations being played out in real-time.

“Being in this building that’s named after him in Tucson with our friends and family,” University of Arizona Assistant Professor Jessica Barnes said, “it’s just, it feels surreal.”

The members present at the event were only a small fraction of the scientists that have and will become a part of rewriting the earliest parts of our history.

“People from undergraduate students, to grad students, to post doctorate and senior faculty will be looking at the samples so there will be several generations of students and several generations of scientists who will be working on it,” University of Arizona employee Pierre Haenecour said.

The celebration has been long-awaited, with many of the mission’s victories happening during the pandemic.

“Everyone was remote, we were talking to each other a lot over Zoom but it’s not quite the same as being able to really gather together,” OSIRIS-REx Mission Editor Cat Wolner said, “so I think we have been building up this celebratory energy for a long time there’s been a lot to celebrate and today is the climactic moment.”

But now that team members can breathe a sigh of relief, they’re ready to look to the past for our future.

“It’s a very exciting time for all of us to be looking at those samples,” Haenecour said, “and try to unravel the origin of our solar system, the origin of life, the origin of water on Earth, and try to understand where we come from.”

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