PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS, KYMA/KECY) - On Sunday, NASA was able to recover its first asteroid sample brought back to Earth from the OSIRIS-REx capsule.
Researchers say those samples could provide big clues into the birth of our solar system.
And now, a photographer from Arizona shared his first-hand account as he witnessed the landing from inside the Lockheed Martin Campus in Colorado.
Seven years later, the OSIRIS-REx mission is complete; landing in the Utah desert, bringing an asteroid sample back for the first time by a US spacecraft.
"It was absolutely like chills. It was incredible," said Andrew McCarthy, a photographer from Arizona.
A space enthusiast himself, McCarthy was there to experience this amazing milestone at the Lockheed Martin Campus in Colorado.
"When the cameras are off, people were going nuts. They were so excited because they were working on this mission over ten years, and to see it finally safe and sound in the utah desert was an incredible moment. Incredible relief for everybody," McCarthy recounted.
In the capsule is known to be precious cargo from the Benuu asteroid, containing rich soil and remnants nearly 4.5 billion years old.
"I'm really excited to see what they find in this sample. Fingers crossed it's aliens, but its probably not going to be aliens. I have a feeling they're just going to find some really fascinating geology there that's going to give us insights into how our own planet was formed in the early days of the solar system," McCarthy expressed.
An experience never to forget
That sample has since been hauled to a laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where it will be processed and then shared with researchers around the world.
McCarthy says this experience was something he will never forget.
"Being able to just be around this incredible community of people that all are so passionate about space and furthering humanity's footprint into space and understanding our cosmos are just incredible in its own right," McCarthy shared.