NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Team in Field for Capsule Recovery

Having received the capsule’s precise coordinates from radar trackers when it landed, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx helicopter recovery team arrived at its landing location within 20 minutes.

A U.S. Air Force munitions specialist was the first person to disembark a helicopter. His task was to identify and clear the area around the capsule of any possible munitions left over from military training. He also marked a safe approach path with small flags for the OSIRIS-REx team members who will be working with and around the capsule. 

The next person to approach the capsule was a Lockheed Martin engineer who inspected the condition of the capsule and measured the gas levels just around it. She wore heat-resistant gloves in case the capsule was still hot from its interaction with the atmosphere, and a gas mask in case the capsule battery was damaged and releasing noxious gases such as sulfur dioxide.  

To protect the sample from possible contamination, the Lockheed engineer secured covers over the capsule vents, which are designed to let air in, through a filter, to adjust the pressure inside the capsule as it traveled to and from space through Earth’s atmosphere. She also covered the canister where the parachutes were stored (both parachutes separated from the capsule, as planned).    

The plan now is for the rest of the team to approach the capsule to pack it up for its flight to the temporary clean room on the military range.