Current Affairs: OSIRIS-REx: First Mission to Collect Samples from Asteroid & Learning the Origins of Life

 OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer)

NASA Hopes of Learning more about the Origins of Life
  • The US space agency, NASA early this morning launched its first mission to collect samples from an asteroid and return them to Earth in hopes of learning more about the origins of life. 
  • The unmanned spacecraft, known as OSIRIS-REx, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 09.09.2016. The 800 million dollar mission will travel for two years on a journey to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid about the size of a small mountain.
  • Scientists at NASA said OSIRIS-REx's main goal is to gather dirt and debris from the surface of the asteroid and return it to Earth by 2023 for further study.
  • The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) is an ongoing NASA asteroid study and sample return mission. 
  • The launch occurred on September 8, 2016. The mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid and in 2023 to return a sample to Earth for detailed analysis. 
  • Material returned is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System, initial stages of planet formation, and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life on Earth. If successful, OSIRIS-REx will be the first US spacecraft to return samples from an asteroid.
  • The cost of the mission will be approximately USD $800 million not including the Atlas V launch vehicle, which is about $183.5 million. It is the third planetary science mission selected in the New Frontiers Program, after Juno and New Horizons. The Principal Investigator is Dante Lauretta from the University of Arizona.
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