NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on the final leg of its two-year journey back to Earth after collecting samples from the rocky surface of the asteroid Bennu which will touch down in a desert in Utah on September 24, 2023.
- The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer was launched by NASA in 2016 for the journey to Bennu.
- The spacecraft travelled to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and bring back a sample to Earth for study.
- 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.
- Asteroid Bennu is located about 200 million miles away from the Earth.
- It was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
- It is a B-type asteroid, implying that it contains significant amounts of carbon and various other minerals.
- Around 20-40 percent of Bennu’s interior is empty space and scientists believe that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s creation, implying that it is roughly 4.5 billion years old.
- Bennu is believed to have been born in the Main Asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and because of gravitational tugs from other celestial objects and the slight push asteroids get when they release absorbed sunlight, the asteroid is coming closer to Earth.