NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission: A Cosmic Journey That Rewrites Science Books!

Hello, space enthusiasts and curious minds! Today, we will discuss something that’s truly out of this world. Imagine a spacecraft travelling billions of miles to collect samples from an asteroid and then coming back to Earth. Sounds like science fiction, right? But it’s not! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has done just that. Let’s explore this incredible journey.

Nasa Osiris-Rex
Credit: Space

What is OSIRIS-REx?

The Mission’s Objective

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. The mission’s main goal is to collect samples from an asteroid named Bennu. Why Bennu? This asteroid is like a time capsule from the early solar system. Scientists hope to learn more about the universe and Earth by studying it.

The Journey

The spacecraft was launched in September 2016. After reaching Bennu in 2018, it spent two years studying the asteroid. In 2020, it collected samples and started its journey back to Earth. The spacecraft is set to return in September 2023.

The Sample Collection

How It Was Done

Collecting samples from an asteroid is a challenging task. The spacecraft had to get close enough to Bennu’s surface to collect material. It was a risky move, but it paid off. The samples are stored in a special capsule for the return trip.

What’s in the Sample?

The samples include rocks and dust from Bennu’s surface. These materials are expected to offer a window into the early solar system. They could reveal the state and composition of matter around the infant Sun.

Why Is This Mission Important?

For Science and Research

After their return, the samples undergo at least two years of study. Furthermore, at least 75% of the sample will be preserved for future research. The mission presents an exceptional opportunity to analyze materials that have been unaltered for billions of years.

For Humanity

Understanding asteroids better can also help us prepare for any potential asteroid impacts in the future. It’s not just about science; it’s about the safety of our planet.

What’s Next for OSIRIS-REx?

After delivering the samples, the spacecraft will not retire. It will change its name to OSIRIS-APEX and set off for another asteroid named Apophis. The new mission aims to study this 1200-foot-wide space rock by 2029.

Conclusion

The OSIRIS-REx mission is a monumental step in space exploration. It advances our understanding of the universe and showcases the incredible feats humans can achieve. As we await the spacecraft’s return, one thing is clear: the sky is not the limit; it’s just the beginning.

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