Ready, Set, Catch: NASA’s First Mission To Collect A Sample From An Asteroid Ready For Touchdown
After seven years in space and a nail-biting maneuver to collect samples, NASA’s first sample return mission from an asteroid is set to land next week! On Sept. 24th at 8:55 MST, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx capsule will zip through Earth’s atmosphere and land in the Utah desert where teams are eagerly waiting. In the belly of the capsule are some of the oldest rocks in our solar system collected from the surface of a carbon-rich asteroid named Bennu. The sample offers a pristine look at the building blocks that became our Sun and planets some 4.5 billion years ago. Asteroids are chunky leftover rocks and metals that didn’t coalesce into the planets or Sun. They’ve changed little since their formation, and offer a pristine window into the chemical composition of the early solar system - and whether asteroids like Bennu carried the organic molecules that could have seeded early Earth with the ingredients for life.
Suggested Anchor Intro: Seven years ago this month, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission blasted off to an asteroid named Bennu. Its mission…. to collect samples of this asteroid and return it to Earth. After traveling for nearly 3.9 billion miles, OSIRIS-REx is about to deliver its precious cargo. Here to talk about this incredible accomplishment is NASA expert XX.
Suggested Questions: OSIRIS-REx traveled to an asteroid named Bennu, before you talk about the mission could you tell us what an asteroid is and why we want to study them? In just a few days, scientists will get precious samples from an asteroid in NASA’s first-ever asteroid sample return mission! What are these next few days going to be like? Now let's talk about the OSIRIS-REx mission. Can you tell us about its epic journey to Bennu and back? What are we hoping to learn from this out-of-this world sample? OSIRIS-REx didn’t just grab samples, it also studied this asteroid in unprecedented detail. Did anything surprise you about this asteroid? How can our viewers watch this capsule return to Earth on Sunday Sept. 24th, and keep up with the latest discoveries?
Questions for longer interviews: Why was Bennu chosen for this mission? This mission isn’t done yet, what comes next for OSIRIS-REx? How common are asteroids like Bennu? How will the sample be cared for once it’s back on Earth? How challenging was a mission like this to gather a sample without actually landing on the asteroid?
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