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NASA Nearing Launch for OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Mission

Aug 21, 2016 11:31 PM EDT
XSP: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera Images
NASA is almost ready to send it's asteroid mission spacecraft to collect samples from Bennu, a nearby asteroid.
(Photo : NASA/ESA via Getty Images)

NASA is almost ready to launch another mission that will mark another genre of space exploration. NASA's OSIRIS-REx, the asteroid-bound spacecraft, is set to visit a nearby asteroid, map its surface and collect samples that might pave the way to the discovery of elements that did not originate from Earth.

Earlier this year, NASA announced that their asteroid mission, using the Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex), will be launched this September. Experts say that the mission to collect samples from an asteroid can provide lots of new information about the universe that men haven't discovered before.

"The asteroid, little altered over time, is likely to represent a snapshot of our solar system's infancy. The asteroid also is likely rich in carbon, a key element in the organic molecules necessary for life" said Dr. Dante Lauretta, from the University of Arizona, is OSIRIS-REx's principal investigator said in a statement.

As the launch date approaches, the agency said that its preparations are on the dot and that OSIRIS-REx with its robotics arms is almost ready to collect samples from asteroid Bennu using its robotic arms.


One of the main goals of the mission is to collect samples from Bennu and to safely bring them back to Earth. Geoff Yoder, the acting associate administrator for NASA's Science Directorate (SMD) said that the asteroid sample and the OSIRIS-REx mission is a step towards further exploring the Solar System and that it will pave the way to explore and discover the universe, TechTimes reported.

To collect valuable science, OSIRIS-REx will use its innovative robotic arms to gather about 70 ounces of asteroid samples from Bennu and its surface. The samples are expected to reach Earth in 2023 and are expected to undergo rigorous analysis to extract the science that comes with it.

Dante Lauretta is one of the brains behind the asteroid mission that started it in 2004. This week, Lauretta is scheduled to view the spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center.

"I've come to really enjoy visiting the spacecraft and seeing it grow up," Lauretta said in an interview. "I'm happy to send it on the journey to Bennu and back," Lauretta added.

OSIRIS-REx will be enclosed inside a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and is scheduled to depart for Bennu on Sept. 8.


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