Bolted to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will lift off on Thursday to study an asteroid and return to Earth seven years later with a sample for first-hand analysis.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to orbit, map and collect samples from near-Earth asteroid Bennu.
The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth,
“The launch of OSIRIS-REx is the beginning of a seven-year journey to return pristine samples from asteroid Bennu.
After a careful survey of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will collect between 60 to 2,000 grams of surface material with its robotic arm and return the sample to Earth.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.