NASA Shares Footage Of Historic OSIRIS-REx Touchdown [Videos]

KEY POINTS

  • NASA successfully completed its long-planned TAG mission on asteroid Bennu this week
  • The agency shared videos of the event captured by an instrument aboard OSIRIS-REx
  • The agency will now determine whether the TAG event captured enough samples or not

NASA shared footage of the recently completed Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event on asteroid Bennu. The short clips show some of the critical moments from the historic mission.

After years of planning, NASA succeeded this week in performing its first-ever mission to collect samples directly from an asteroid. Using the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, the agency successfully “booped” the asteroid for a brief moment to collect samples and safely backed away again.

The agency shared footage of the historic mission captured by the SamCam instrument, which is one of the three cameras in the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite. In an eight-second video shared by NASA, the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) instrument, the only part of the spacecraft to touch the surface, can be seen approaching and positioning itself to make contact with the Nightingale sample collection site.

“Upon initial contact, the TAGSAM head appears to crush some of the porous rocks underneath it,” NASA said on its website. “One second later, the spacecraft fires a nitrogen gas bottle, which mobilizes a substantial amount of the sample site’s material.”

Although the footage looks rather like a video of the collection event, it is actually a series of 82 images captured within a five-minute period.

According to NASA, the touchdown was confirmed at exactly 6.08 p.m. EDT, with the data showing that TAGSAM only made contact with the surface of asteroid Bennu for just six seconds. After the brief contact, the spacecraft fired its thrusters to move away from the asteroid again.

Another video shared by the agency is also a collection of images captured by SamCam, this time of 16 images showing the “aftermath” of the sample collection. Unlike the other video, which looks like a clean shot of the mission, the 20-second aftermath video looks rather like a slide show of the disturbance that the mission caused on the surface of the asteroid.

Starting with a clean shot of the TAGSAM touching the surface, the video goes on to show several other images of the debris and asteroid material floating around the instrument as it backs away from the asteroid.

The team behind the mission is analyzing how much samples the spacecraft actually collected during Tuesday’s mission. If it’s enough, OSIRIS-REx will prepare to leave Bennu and return to Earth. If not, the team will have to make another TAG attempt in January 2021.

Determining how much the spacecraft really collected will take about a week, NASA said in a news release.

“Even though we have some work ahead of us to determine the outcome of the event – the successful contact, the TAGSAM gas firing, and back-away from Bennu are major accomplishments for the team,” OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at

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Ohio School Assigned YouTube Videos From Far-Right PragerU

Dennis Prager.

Dennis Prager.
Photo: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon (Getty Images)

There’s learning and then there’s “learning.” According to a report in the Huffington Post on Tuesday, students in a 10th-grade history class at Maumee High School in Ohio were offered extra credit to do a little of the latter by watching videos produced by Prager University (PragerU). That is not, in fact, a university, but a right-wing nonprofit and YouTube channel founded by talk show host Dennis Prager.

PragerU videos are often stocked with historical revisionism, xenophobic and anti-Muslim propaganda, rants decrying feminism, climate change denial, and rhetoric asserting the “left” is a pathology centered around literally destroying the U.S. It also promotes creationism and flirts with far-right rhetoric like decrying the demographic “suicide” of Europe. (Prager himself has bemoaned that it “is idiotic that you cannot say the N-word.”) PragerU videos are often littered with factual inaccuracies and tend to hype up a conservative victimization complex.

Despite this, PragerU has high production values that help bolster its desired image as a sort of academic institution rather than a right-wing content farm. Its ethos is—and Prager himself has claimed as much—that watching YouTube videos of conservative pundits relaying the kind of talking points preferred by the House Freedom Caucus constitutes an educational experience. It’s become a powerhouse of the conservative digital media ecosystem, with over 2.8 million subscribers and views in the billions on YouTube, 3.8 million likes on Facebook, and over 540,000 Twitter followers.

According to HuffPo, some of the videos assigned had titles including “Build the Wall,” “Why the Right Was Right,” and “The Left Ruins Everything.” Students were reportedly asked among other things to identify the videos’ “most important messages.” News that PragerU was being taught in the classroom comes the same month as its recent push to break into K-12 education (PragerU Educators and Parents, or PREP), though the teacher involved assigned the videos last year.

To give an idea of what kind of stuff PragerU thinks schools across the country should be teaching, course guides offered in the promotional push included sections such as “Conservatives Are the Real Environmentalists” and “The Ferguson Lie,” per HuffPo. True-false questions for test preparation offered in PREP materials include “nearly all the major 19th- and 20th-century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans” and “Big Tech with its control of search algorithms, its shadowbanning, and deboosting supports political correctness and the resulting limitations of freedom.”

PragerU marketing exec Craig Strazzeri told HuffPost that in his nightmare vision of an ideal world, the nation’s students would have PragerU content streamed directly into their eyeballs A Clockwork Orange-style:

Already, “2,000 parents and educators have already signed up for PREP,” Craig Strazzeri, chief marketing officer of PragerU, said in an email to HuffPost.

“We constantly hear from educators and teachers who use our videos in the classroom,” Strazzeri said.

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