Planets and Moons  Universe  ID: 12322

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.

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Story Credits

Lead Visualizer/Animator:
Chris Meaney (HTSI)

Tyler Chase (USRA)
Chris Smith (Self)

Video Editor:
Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Dan Gallagher (USRA)

Jason Dworkin (NASA/GSFC)

Chris Smith (Self)

Lead Writer:
NASA Viz Team

Elizabeth Zubritsky (ADNET)
Sarah Schlieder (NASA/GSFC)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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