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NASA Readies OSIRIS-REx to Visit an Asteroid

6 Sep 2016, 15:04 UTC
NASA Readies OSIRIS-REx to Visit an Asteroid
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Artist’s concept of OSIRIS-REx (NASA/Goddard)
NASA is about to embark on its first mission to an asteroid—and I’ll have a front-row seat to the launch!
On Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:05 p.m. (23:05 UTC) the launch window opens for the launch of OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s mission to visit the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, orbit and map it, collect a sample and return it to Earth. The 8-foot-wide, 20-foot-long spacecraft will launch aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral AFS and as a member of the latest NASA Social event I and 99 other attendees will be at the Cape to see it off on its 7-year journey. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to see pictures and videos from the two-day event on Sept. 7–8, and follow the #NASASocial hashtag on Twitter too!

OSIRIS-REx is an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer. The solar-powered spacecraft will spend two years traveling to the 1,600-foot-wide (about a third of a mile) asteroid Bennu, then spend a year mapping it via laser altimeter. In July 2020 it will use a sampling tool at the end of a long arm to retrieve at least 60g (2 oz.) ...

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