NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is the first U.S. mission to retrieve a pristine sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for further study. The mission’s target is Bennu, a carbon-rich near-Earth asteroid that is also potentially hazardous to Earth.
Asteroids are the leftover debris from the Solar System’s formation process that began more than 4.5 billion years ago. Studying Bennu will revolutionize our understanding of the early Solar System and teach us much about planetary history and the origin of life. The OSIRIS-REx mission will expand our knowledge of the hazards and resources in near-Earth space and will serve as a precursor to future asteroid missions.
OSIRIS-REx was launched on September 8, 2016 and arrived at Bennu on December 3, 2018. The window for sample acquisition opens on July 4, 2020. The sample will return to Earth on September 24, 2023.
OSIRIS-REx Mission Animation
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center