2016: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Launches from Earth

This week, we are recapping noteworthy OSIRIS-REx mission events each day so you can catch up on anything you may have missed so far in NASA’s first mission to collect a sample from an asteroid.  

(Post #1 in a series of four) 

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NASA’s first mission to sample an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx, launched on Sept. 8, 2016, at 7:05 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About the size of an S.U.V., OSIRIS-REx would travel for two years to a near-Earth asteroid originally designated 1999 RQ36. The name “Bennu,” referencing an ancient Egyptian deity, was picked in 2013 by nine-year-old Michael Puzio, from North Carolina, who won a naming competition.  

NASA chose to go to Bennu because the asteroid possesses several key characteristics that make it perfect for a sample return mission. Here are all the reasons why 

Scientists around the globe have been waiting for years for the spacecraft to deliver a sample from Bennu to Earth. Among the many questions they’ve been waiting to explore by analyzing pieces of Bennu is: Did asteroids deliver molecules that played a role in the origin of life on Earth, and potentially on other planets and moons? 

Learn more: 

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Speeds Toward Asteroid Rendezvous 

Why Bennu? 10 Reasons 

Coming up tomorrow:Arrival at Bennu — A World Full of Surprises.” 

— Lonnie Shekhtman