The OSIRIS-REx at about T minus 27 hours, sitting atop a United Launch Alliance AtlasV rocket, soon to be launch to asteroid Bennu. Photo credit: Michael Seeley / We Report Space
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER: When I write a book about Microsoft Excel, I know that book will have a shelf life of about three years. When you build a trellis for your garden, you might hope that the structure will stand for five to ten years. Can you imagine doing work that will be cited 175 years in the future? The OSIRIS-REx team can.
OSIRIS-REx launches on September 8, 2016 to rendezvous with asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft will thoroughly map the asteroid in order to find a suitable place for a five-second gentle kiss that should stir up the asteroid surface enough for anywhere from 2 ounces to 4.4 pounds of asteroid to be returned to Earth. No matter how much material is returned, a pre-determined formula will be used to split up the sample for scientific analysis. 25% of the material will be studied immediately. But 75% is reserved for research over the next several decades.
Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at Goddard, pointed out that people not yet ...