Earth-bound scientists are on track to get their hands on asteroid soil, straight from the source, in 2023. An asteroid-sampling mission, planned for launch in 2016, is moving into development, NASA and the University of Arizona announced yesterday.
The mission, called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx, will land a spacecraft on the asteroid Bennu, scoop up at least two ounces of its dirt, and bring the sample back to Earth for testing. OSIRIS-REx's planners hope Bennu's soil will contain molecules dating from the origin of the solar system. Bennu may contain water and amino acids, which would offer clues to the birth of the solar system and of life on Earth.
OSIRIS-REx will also map Bennu's other properties, such as non-gravitational forces on the asteroid, while it spends more than a year hovering near the asteroid's surface. Ultimately, OSIRIS-REx's findings will help NASA in its plans to rope an asteroid into the moon's orbit for human visits, the agency said in a statement.
With the new NASA approval, engineers will now build OSIRIS-REx's capsule and instruments, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
Bennu is more than 1,600 feet in diameter and contains carbon. It swings relatively close to Earth in its orbit, and has a 1-in-2,000 chance of a collision in the 22nd century, according to the University of Arizona, which is leading the mission. Scientists chose Bennu for a sampling mission because of its accessible orbit, carbon makeup and large size, the Los Angeles Times reported.
NASA first announced plans to visit Bennu in 2011. The mission will cost $1 billion, according to the University of Arizona.
"...NASA first announced plans to visit Bennu in 2011. The mission will cost $1 billion, according to the University of Arizona..."
And yet it is not financially advantageous to fix the Kepler Telescope.
NASA wants only new toys to play with or nothing else.
1 billion dollars to gather two ounces of its dirt....
Yeah, NASA and the Government need to get their priorities in order.
"1 billion dollars to gather two ounces of its dirt"
Yeah, and to gather invaluable information that will help us develop the technology to visit and mine asteroids in the future that will have a direct economic benefit. It ISN'T financially advantageous to fix the Kepler, seeing as how it doesn't generate anything economically valuable. The data it collects is valuable to science, sure, but you seemed to be focused on economics alone.
You blowhards need to learn the science behind these things instead of automatically assuming any money spent on anything would be better spent on something else.
"Blowhards", wow you must be old, lol. It is your way or else with an insult to finalize your thoughts.
Not that it matters, but Kepler is a long way out there -- not like the Hubble. As has been stated by others, fixing Kepler would probably cost more than building a new one -- which also wouldn't be cheap.
Plus, it has actually either come close to or surpassed it's planned lifetime.
Figuring out how to mine asteroids is a huge deal.
I believe it was just suggested with great appreciation of Kepler to fix it, rather it stop working. Plus with the development of technology to actually fix Kepler would also help develop ourselves in settle in space. We do have to learn to manage our problems in space, if we want to live and be apart of space.