NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is ready to deliver a collected package from the asteroid Bennu to the Arizona desert. Bennu’s carbon-rich surface makes it an important target for scientists studying the origins of life on Earth. Despite challenges faced by the spacecraft, such as nearly disappearing in loose gravel on Bennu, the team successfully collected a sample of regolith from the asteroid’s surface.

Chemical engineer Solveig Irvine from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center explained that Bennu’s composition can provide valuable information about Earth’s chemistry and the potential for life in space. By studying this carbonaceous asteroid, scientists hope to learn more about the building blocks of life and the chemistry that exists beyond Earth.

One of the advantages of missions like OSIRIS-REx is that they provide valuable scientific data without the need for human astronauts. Robotic spacecraft can operate autonomously and continuously collect data, allowing for a greater understanding of our universe. While crewed space flights offer the advantage of direct exploration, robotic missions are more cost-effective and can operate for extended periods without rest.

As for the sample collected by OSIRIS-REx, it will be taken to the Johnson Space Center in Texas for preservation. Approximately 75% of the sample will be stored for future scientists, while the remaining 25% will be analyzed by the OSIRIS-REx team. The team consists of world-renowned scientists who will conduct various analyses to gather more information about Bennu’s composition.

The spacecraft has earned the fondness of the NASA team, affectionately calling it O-Rex. They eagerly await its next tasks and have a special attachment to this robotic explorer that has collected valuable data from a distant asteroid.

– NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
– University of Arizona
– Lockheed Martin
– Goddard Space Flight Center