Recently, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft attempted a “Touch And Go” (TAG) maneuver on an asteroid known as Bennu. The spacecraft has been orbiting the asteroid for some time, planning its movements with great precision. So the NASA team ordered her to do what she was sent for: get a sample from the asteroid. The process was complicated, but shortly after the commands were sent, news came that the probe had survived a sampling attempt and was once again in orbit around the asteroid at a safe distance.
There is also a video of the entire event, which is definitely worth seeing:
The probe descended to the surface of the asteroid, touched it very briefly, and threw some nitrogen at it. The Touch-And-Go process took only seconds, and in that short time the probe’s sampling head picked up everything it captured. The gas fired detonated a bunch of material, which was entirely intentional because it was supposed to allow the sampling head to get bulk material.
Preliminary data indicate that OSIRIS-REx took approximately 5 of the 6 seconds of contact to collect the surface material and most of the samples were taken during the first 3 seconds. NASA says it could take up to a week to find out if the spacecraft has received a sample large enough to be worth taking home. If not, the team prepares for a second operation like this and hopes for better results.