A Brief History
On September 8, 2016, NASA launched its OSIRIS-Rex mission to near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu with the goal of returning to Earth with a sample of the asteroid. The sample size is to be at least 2.1 ounces.
The sample is to be returned to the Earth about September 24, 2023. The rendezvous with the asteroid took place in 2018 and the sample was not collected until October of 2020 when the spacecraft made a landing on the space rock.
Despite mechanical difficulty, a sample between 400 and 1,000 grams was collected. NASA hopes to find clues to the origin of our solar system and to the building blocks of life on Earth.
Cost of the project is about $800 million for the OSIRIS-Rex and another $183.5 million for the Atlas V launch rocket. After seven years of waiting for the return, we will find out if the effort was worth the cost!
Question for students (and subscribers): Is the space program worth the cost? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Cunningham, Clifford. Asteroids. Reaktion Books, 2021.
Tanna, Sunil. The Solar System. Independently published, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a diagram by JPL Small-Body Database Browser of the orbits of Bennu and the inner planets around the Sun, is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted“. (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.)
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