NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to launch atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on September 8

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to launch atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on September 8

The US space agency NASA’s first-ever asteroid-sampling mission’s lift-off will take place after three weeks. It is planned to launch on September 8 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. In case everything goes as planned, the probe will bring back a pristine sample of the possiblydangerous space rock Bennu to our planet in September 2023.

During a news conference on August 17, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said that they are hunting for samples dating back to the very beginning of our solar system.

Lauretta said, “We want to get those back into our laboratories to understand the processes that may have led to the origin of life, and to the habitability of our planet”.

OSIRIS-Rex is going to take an indirect route to Bennu, ultimately coming in contact with the 1,600-foot-wide (500 meters) space rock in August 2018.

The spacecraft is going to study Bennu from orbit for nearly a couple of years, after which in July 2020 or so, it will move down, grabbing minimal 2 ounces (60 grams) of asteroid material.

In the news conference, Jeff Grossman, OSIRIS-REx program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, said that they won’t technically land on Bennu, but will come in touch with it for nearly 5 seconds. While explaining the same, Grossman said that in those 5 seconds, the probe is going to blast the surface of the asteroid with gas and collect the blown out material.

As per present plans, OSIRIS-Rex will leave Bennu for our planet in March 2021. The spacecraft will eject the sample capsule in September 2023,laning with the help of parachutes in the Utah desert.



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