The lower half of the images is dominated by the spacecraft’s sampling arm, the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM).

The arm’s round head was the only part of the spacecraft that touched the asteroid, making contact for about six seconds.

And at the time of contact, the spacecraft was approaching Bennu at about 0.2mph and then retreated at about 0.9mph.

NASA said: “In the middle of the image sequence, the sampling head positions itself to contact the asteroid’s surface head-on.

“Shortly after, the sampling head impacts site Nightingale and penetrates Bennu’s regolith.

“Upon initial contact, the TAGSAM head appears to crush some of the porous rock underneath it.

“One second later, the spacecraft fires a nitrogen gas bottle, which mobilises a substantial amount of the sample site’s material.”





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