Osiris-Rex Space Craft Artwork

Spacecraft to return from asteroid mission with precious cargo

NASA mission

Osiris-Rex is a NASA mission that aims to collect and return a sample from asteroid Bennu, which is believed to be a remnant of the early solar system. The mission hopes to learn more about the origins of life on Earth and the potential for asteroid mining in the future.

Osiris-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. The spacecraft launched in 2016 and arrived at Bennu in 2018. It spent two years mapping and studying the asteroid before successfully collecting a sample of about 300 grams (10.6 ounces) of dust and rocks in October 2020.

Asteroid Bennu


The sample capsule is now on its way back to Earth and is expected to land in Utah on September 24, 2023. Scientists are eager to analyze the material and look for clues about how the solar system formed and how organic molecules that are essential for life were delivered to Earth.

Osiris-Rex is also planning an extended mission to visit another near-Earth asteroid called Apophis in 2029. Apophis is considered a potentially hazardous asteroid because it has a small chance of hitting Earth in the future. Osiris-Rex will observe and measure Apophis to improve our understanding of its orbit and characteristics.

Nasa’s Osiris-Rex capsule will come screaming into Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday 24th September 2023 at more than 15 times the speed of a bullet.

It will make a fireball in the sky but a heat shield will protect the craft. Parachutes will then deploy to slow the descent and bring it to a gentle touchdown in Utah’s West Desert.

Bringing with it a special space cargo that may help the human race discover the origin of life.

Sampling an Asteroid

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