Why is it in the news?
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) spacecraft is set to return to Earth.
- OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016 with the mission to study and collect samples from the near-Earth asteroid (NEA) Bennu.
About the Mission
- First United States asteroid sample return mission.
- Aims to collect a pristine asteroid sample and bring it back to Earth for scientific study.
- Equipped with five instruments, including cameras, a spectrometer, and a laser altimeter.
- Features a robotic arm called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) for collecting a sample from the asteroid.
- Scientists will use the asteroid samples to study the formation of the solar system and habitable planets like Earth.
- NASA will distribute a portion of the samples to laboratories worldwide and reserve 75% for future generations.
- Ancient asteroid located more than 200 million miles from Earth.
- Landing site on Bennu: Nightingale.
- Approximately as tall as the Empire State Building and named after an Egyptian deity.
- Discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team.
- Classified as a B-type asteroid, rich in carbon and minerals.
- Reflects only about 4% of incoming light.
- Offers insights into the early solar system’s conditions and chemistry.
- Provides valuable information about the solar system’s early history and the potential for life-seeding ingredients.
· Asteroids are rocky objects orbiting the Sun, smaller than planets.
· Over 994,000 known asteroids, remnants of the solar system’s formation.
· Classified into three groups: main asteroid belt, trojans, and Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs).
· NEAs include Earth-crossing asteroids, with over 10,000 known, and some categorized as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).