Would you travel a hundred million miles just to grab and bring back a handful of dirt? You might, if that sample could unlock secrets, like how the solar system formed and whether an asteroid might hit our earth.
On October 20, a spacecraft called Osiris Rex will try to grab the sample from an asteroid named Bennu. Catalyst host Vanessa Ruiz and Catalyst producer Steve Filmer share a sneak peak of the mission.
There is a new generation of NASA missions where “we’re actually going to bring samples back from an asteroid” said Philip Christensen, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration.
These samples will likely have minerals that are unlike anything we have seen on earth.
Meenakshi Wadhwa, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration said, “they could also give us a clue about what the origin of life on our planet, really was.”
Osiris will extract the minerals by putting, “this thing that looks like an air filter down on the surface blows up a blast of gas to stir up that surface, and that gas and dust go out through the filter, and they get caught” said Christensen.
Not only will Osiris Rex potentially provide information on the history of earth but, “one of the primary science objectives…deals with the security aspect of the earth asteroids” said Dante Lauretta, Principal Investigator, NASA Osiris-Rex Mission.
Lauretta said, “our largest target asteroid Bennu is the most potentially hazardous asteroids in the solar system.”
Bennu is predicted to come back to the earth, very close, in 2135. NASA is understanding its orbit precisely to see how likely it is to hit the earth.
Osiris Rex will potentially fill in the gaps of some of the most fundamental questions; Where did we come from? And are we alone in the universe?