A first for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx craft readies itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

OMSI keeps Oregonians in the loop

Keeping skywatchers informed, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Director of Space Science Education Jim Todd emailed notification that National Aeronautics and Space Administration will attempt to land a craft and collect samples on Bennu, an asteroid near Earth, next week. 

“NASA will broadcast coverage of a first for the agency as its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission attempts to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 3:12 p.m. EDT,” Todd’s email detailed.

While the spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in 2018, will not return to Earth with the samples until 2023, NASA will broadcast live coverage of the spacecraft’s descent to the asteroid beginning at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and at nasa.gov/nasalive.

“OSIRIS-REx, which is about the size of a 15-passenger van, is currently orbiting the asteroid Bennu 200 million miles from Earth. Bennu contains material from the early solar system and may contain the molecular precursors to life and Earth’s oceans. The asteroid is about as tall as the Empire State Building and could potentially threaten Earth late in the next century, with a one-in-2,700 chance of impacting the planet during one of its close approaches. 

“OSIRIS-REx is now ready to take a sample of this ancient relic of our solar system and bring its stories and secrets home to Earth,” Todd explained.

Live events take place next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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