Recently, astronomers have found hundreds of planets circling far-away suns. Do they harbor life? Does humanity have neighbors who, like us, gaze at the heavens wondering if they are alone? Now, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is set to add one more piece to this important puzzle.
How did life begin on Earth? Were the molecules essential to life — organics and water — present when Earth was formed? Or were they delivered afterwards in a furious bombardment?
Where will we look to find answers?
To understand origin of life on Earth, NASA will visit an artifact from the ancient solar system: asteroid Bennu. Scientists tell us that asteroid Bennu has been a silent witness to titanic events in the solar system’s 4.6 billion year history. To unlock Bennu’s secrets, they are planning to send a spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx to visit the asteroid and retrieve a sample. When it returns in 2023 with its precious cargo, OSIRIS-REx will help to break that silence and retrace Bennu’s Journey.