Sampling An Asteroid
In September 2016, NASA will launch the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will travel to a near-Earth asteroid to obtain a pristine sample of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The target, called Bennu, is a primitive asteroid thought to contain molecules that may have been the precursors to life on our planet. When it arrives at Bennu in 2018, OSIRIS-REx will spend a year surveying the asteroid with a suite of scientific instruments. The data that's collected will allow scientists to create detailed maps that show the relative abundance of minerals and other materials across Bennu’s surface. Once a site suitable for sampling is identified, the spacecraft will slowly approach the asteroid and use a device attached to a mechanical arm to extract at least 2 ounces and up to 4.4 pounds of surface material. The sample from Bennu will be delivered to Earth in 2023. Watch the video to learn more.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center