This NASA Spacecraft Could Unveil the Origins of Life

NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission is ready for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu. What will its samples reveal?
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NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, was launched approximately 4 years ago in September 2016 with the goal of collecting samples from an asteroid. Specifically, a rare B-type asteroid. B-type asteroids are primitive, meaning they haven’t changed much since the Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago. And this could mean they contain carbon-based organic molecules similar to those that led to life on Earth.

The B-type asteroid OSIRIS-REx was launched at is called Bennu, formerly known as RQ36, and since December 2018, OSIRIS-REx has been surveying and orbiting Bennu, mapping the asteroid’s surface, tracking its spin, ad gaining experience flying close to a small body.

Find out more about the science OSIRIS-REx has been doing as it whizzes around Bennu and the mission’s findings in this Elements.

#NASA #asteroid #OSIRIS #bennu #space #seeker #science #elements

Read More:
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins its Countdown to TAG
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/osiris-rex-begins-its-countdown-to-tag
“In just a few weeks, the robotic OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will descend to asteroid Bennu’s boulder-strewn surface, touch down for a few seconds and collect a sample of the asteroid’s rocks and dust – marking the first time NASA has grabbed pieces of an asteroid, which will be returned to Earth for study.”

Mysterious asteroid activity complicates NASA’s sampling attempts
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/mysterious-asteroid-activity-complicates-nasa-s-sampling-attempts
“The abundance of impact craters on Bennu’s ridgelike belly suggest the asteroid is up to a billion years old, more ancient than once thought.”

Do asteroids hold the key to life on Earth?
https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/do-asteroids-hold-the-key-to-life-on-earth/4011612.article
“‘The water and organics on Earth didn’t form with the planet, they came in later on asteroids,’ explains Harold Levison, a chief planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, US.”

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