Science 2 mins read

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft to Touch the Surface of Asteroid Bennu

NASA's Osiris-rex spacecraft is set to land on the Bennu asteroid today. If successful, it will be the first NASA craft to bring back asteroid samples to Earth.

artist's concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

artist's concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Two years after launch, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is now just hours away from reaching its destination: the Bennu asteroid.

Following the successful touch down of the InSight lander on the Martian surface, another NASA probe is on its way to make history. Today, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to reach the surface of Bennu, one of the closest asteroids to Earth.

The highly-anticipated rendezvous with the asteroid will happen today, December 3, at around 11:45 AM to 12:15 PM EST. NASA TV will livestream the event starting at 11:15 AM EST.

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. NASA the craft into space over two years ago from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The OSIRIS-REx mission is part of NASA’s $800-million project to send space probes to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

OSIRIS-REx to Take Samples From Bennu

The primary mission of OSIRIS-REx is to gather sample materials from the carbon-rich surface of Bennu and send it back to Earth for scientific analysis. Researchers theorized that Bennu’s solid composition had remained the same since its formation some 4.5 billion years ago.

If their theory is correct, the samples could potentially hold helpful clues about the origin of our solar system.

Should the probe successfully reach Bennu, it will explore the surface of the space rock for about a year. ON its way it will collect significant information such as its mass, composition, and topography. Using an 11-foot long robotic arm called TAGSAM, the spacecraft will suck up dust samples from the asteroid’s surface.

The collected material will then be sent back to Earth and will arrive in 2023. If successful, the sample will be the largest collection of alien material brought back to Earth since the Apollo mission. It will also be the first asteroid sample retrieval mission by NASA.

Do you believe that these samples will give scientists a better glimpse of the origins of the solar system?

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Rechelle Ann Fuertes

Rechelle is an SEO content producer, technical writer, researcher, social media manager, and visual artist. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with family and friends.

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