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Science Objectives of OSIRIS-REx

10 Sep 2016, 03:08 UTC
Science Objectives of OSIRIS-REx
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SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 CAPE CANAVERAL: An Atlas V rocket launched the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on its way to rendezvous with a skyscraper-sized asteroid named Bennu. In six years, 11 months, and 27 days, a sample of Bennu will parachute into Utah. At that point, decades of science begin.

Parachute installation in the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule. Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
The sample return capsule will contain anywhere from 2 ounces to 4.4 pounds of Bennu. The material will be a mix of dust and gravel (up to 1 centimeter in size). By returning a portion of the asteroid to Earth, the science team will use room-sized instruments to analyze this ancient asteroid.
As part of the mission plan, 25% of the returned sample will be used for current analysis. Another 75% will be archived for use over the coming decades. The OSIRIS-REx team says that future generations will be able to analyze the sample from Bennu to “perform tests we haven’t thought of, using equipment not been invented yet.”
Illustration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft sending its sample return capsule back to Earth. Illustration credit: Lockheed Martin
Extrapolating from Bennu to Other Asteroids
NASA has a planetary defense department on the lookout ...

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