NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is about to make history by returning an asteroid sample to Earth. After a seven-year journey covering an impressive 4.4 billion miles, the crewless spacecraft will release a capsule containing the sample from 63,000 miles above the planet. This exciting event is set to take place on September 24.
OSIRIS-Rex’s main objective was to visit the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and retrieve a sample. The spacecraft has diligently completed its mission, providing an unprecedented opportunity for scientists to study the origins of life and the solar system’s evolution. Bennu is a carbon-rich asteroid that could hold essential clues about the chemical origins of life on Earth. Additionally, scientists have expressed concern about Bennu potentially colliding with our planet in the future, making the mission even more critical.
When the sample is dropped 63,000 miles above Earth, it is projected to land in a high mountain desert in Utah. If everything goes according to plan, OSIRIS-Rex will be the first U.S. mission to successfully return an asteroid sample. The recovery team will play a vital role in ensuring the safety and preservation of the capsule before it is transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for detailed analysis.
Those eager to witness this significant milestone in space exploration can tune in to NASA’s website and YouTube channel. The live coverage of the sample return will begin at 10 a.m. ET on September 24. The capsule is expected to land in Utah at 10:42 a.m. ET.
The return of the asteroid sample holds immense value for our understanding of the solar system’s formation and the potential for life elsewhere in the universe. It represents a major breakthrough in space exploration and scientific research. As the world eagerly awaits the safe retrieval of the sample, anticipation and excitement continue to build among scientists and space enthusiasts alike.