Planets and Moons  Universe  ID: 10974

Most Wanted

There are about 600,000 asteroids in the solar system. That's roughly one for every person living in Washington, D.C. And with more of these rocky objects being found all the time, it's becoming harder to keep track of them all. That's why NASA scientists have assembled a most-wanted list of about six-dozen asteroids that, with the help of amateur astronomers, will be studied in preparation for the first U.S. asteroid sample return mission. Scheduled for launch in 2016, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will orbit asteroid 1999 RQ36 and collect a sample from the surface that is returned to Earth. Analysis of the primitive material will not only reveal new information about the molecular origins of life and how the early solar system formed, but also provide insight into the behavior and movement of near-Earth objects in space. Watch the video below to see how the spacecraft will obtain a sample from the asteroid.

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Story Credits

Lead Visualizer/Animator:
Chris Meaney (HTSI)

Video Editor:
Chris Smith (HTSI)

Chris Smith (HTSI)

Lead Scientists:
Dante Lauretta (The University of Arizona)
Dolores Hill (The University of Arizona)
Carl Hergenrother (The University of Arizona)

Lead Writer:
Elizabeth Zubritsky (ADNET)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Asteroid belt image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
Doppler radar image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Goldstone
Simulated cratering image courtesy of NASA/GSFC/UA/Mike Nolan-Arecibo Observatory/Bob Gaskell-Planetary Science Institute
Spacecraft images courtesy of NASA/GSFC/UA
Astronomers image courtesy of Babak Tafreshi/The World at Night

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