The NASA Johnson Space Center is set to reveal the first sample from an asteroid in the United States on October 11th as part of the OSIRIS-REx mission. This sample, collected from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, is expected to provide valuable insights into the formation of the solar system and the origins of life on Earth.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was launched in 2016 with the goal of studying Bennu and collecting a sample of its surface material. In October 2020, the spacecraft successfully collected around 250 grams of material to be returned to Earth. The final phase of the mission will conclude on September 24, 2023, when a capsule containing the Bennu samples will be released and landed in the Utah desert.
During the unveiling event, the NASA OSIRIS-REx scientific team will share an initial analysis of the sample. Once the sample safely arrives on Earth and lands, NASA experts will collect the asteroid rocks and dust from within the capsule. These samples will be examined at the pristine curation facility at the NASA Johnson Space Center for further detailed analysis.
The OSIRIS-REx Sample Curation Laboratory has been established by NASA to manage the distribution of samples to scientists worldwide. The research conducted on these samples aims to enhance our understanding of planet formation and the solar system, as well as investigate the origins of organic compounds that may have contributed to the development of life on Earth. Additionally, a portion of the sample will be reserved for future investigations as technology continues to improve over time.
The Johnson Space Center houses the largest collection of astromaterials in the world, including samples from asteroids, comets, Mars, the Moon, the Sun, and even dust from other stars. This collection is used by scientists to conduct research on planetary materials and the space environment, further advancing our knowledge of the solar system and beyond.
– OSIRIS-REx Mission