Tomorrow, NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer spacecraft (just call it OSIRIS-REx) will launch into space on a mission to chase down the asteroid Bennu and grab a sample from it, returning to Earth with bits of an asteroid, and new data about Bennu’s trajectory.
Today, NASA released a video of a news conference in which NASA researchers explain the science behind the mission. The interesting bits are in the first 12 minutes, where the team is busy describing the mission, complete with graphics to illustrate how OSIRIS-REx will collect data from the asteroid. They explain why Bennu was chosen (it was accessible, and had the right size and composition), the samples they hope to bring back, and how the asteroid will be mapped during the mission.
The spacecraft will arrive at Bennu in 2018, collect a sample in 2020, and return it to Earth in 2023, parachuting the precious cargo from the spacecraft down to Earth, where the sample will be retrieved and studied intensively for years.