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NASA Prepares to Launch First U.S. Asteroid Sample Return Mission

  • Ryan Carlson

NASA reports this mission will help their scientists investigate the formation of planets and the origins of life, and improve their understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to launch on Sept 8th from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and will travel to the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to reach its target in 2018 and will collect between 2 and 70 ounces of the asteroid’s surface material with a robotic arm and bring the samples back to Earth via a detachable capsule in year 2023.

The OSIRIS-Rex has five instruments to explore Bennu. A Camera Suite (OCAMS), Laser Altimeter (OLA), Thermal Emission Spetrometer (OTES), Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and a Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS). The OSIRIS-Rex also has two systems that will enable sample collection and return of the samples to Earth. A Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and a Sample Return Capsule (SRC) that contains a heat shield and parachutes provided by Lockheed Martin.

According to associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Geoff Yoder “This mission exemplifies our nation’s quest to boldly go and study our solar system and beyond to better understand the universe and our place in it,”

The spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and the OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontier Program.

Read more at NASA.GOV