Osiris-Rex: Chasing Asteroid Bennu | Out There | The New York Times

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On Sept. 8, 2016, the Osiris-Rex
spacecraft will rise on a tongue of fire. Leaving Earth on a seven-year mission to snatch
part of an ancient asteroid and carry it home. Its target is Bennu, a diamond shaped
clump of rubble a quarter mile wide. Asteroids like Bennu were the building blocks
of the early solar system, 4.5 billion years ago. Most of these chunks of primordial
stuff merged long ago … … in violent collisions, to shape
the young Earth and other planets. But Bennu survived, pushed and
prodded by the gravity of the planets. Today, Bennu has a regular, 14-month orbit,
which swings it close to Earth every six years. But sunlight warms the surface of the asteroid … … gradually shifting its orbit in a way
that could eventually threaten the Earth. Osiris-Rex will take two years to reach Bennu,
then spend a year mapping its surface. In July, 2020, the spacecraft
will pick a spot and descend. And try to steal a chunk of the primordial past,
for humans to study for decades to come. An 11-foot arm unfolds and extends. The spacecraft drops, and
briefly touches the asteroid. A puff of nitrogen blows a few ounces
of ancient dust from the surface. A cosmic high five, before the
spacecraft retreats to safety. The sample is weighed and
stowed in a fireproof capsule … … for the two-year cruise back to Earth. As it approaches home, Osiris-Rex will
jettison the sample. Gravity will do the rest. If all goes as planned, the capsule
will fall through the atmosphere … … open its parachute, and land in
the Utah desert on Sept. 24, 2023. A handful of matter retrieved from
the dawn of the solar system. Atoms, separated at birth, returned for
study after 4.5 billion years of wandering. Future missions might visit
another nearby asteroid. A larger spacecraft with robotic arms
and legs could straddle a 20-ton boulder … … grapple it and tow it away. Then carry it back to orbit the moon,
within reach of Earth and its astronauts. Another step in understanding the birth of
our solar system and the world on which we live. And perhaps, a clue to protecting
our blue and green planet … … from an asteroid that may,
one day, veer too close to home.

16 comments

  1. Haha how convenient of you to not mention that such a mission is not unprecedented. Japan did this more than 13 years ago with the Hayabusa mission to the Itokawa asteroid.

  2. WOW !!!
    I guess the reentry vehicle dropping on Utah must have a beacon transmitter to show where it lands ?
    And it should land in a cold place, so that the heat shield cools down quickly?
    I wonder if there is an on-board refrigerator to keep any amino acid or organic molecules intact at the lowest possible temperature, as on the asteroid ?

  3. There's several falsehoods undermining your supposition. Jehovah God created the heavens and the earth. Earth is not in danger and will not be harmed or destroyed. Unexpected events are not factored into your equation. Physical beings have little or no understanding of spiritual beings. There's more involved in the creation of a planet than rubbing two asteroids together. Inorganic particles must form the center to stabilize a magnetic field for orbital movement.

  4. Outstanding video and presentation, very well articulated. It reminds me of the excitement that surrounded space launches in the 1960s, seeing with my father as the satellite Echo brilliantly passed over on a very clear sky.

  5. I didn't know any better I would think this man was trying to tell me how things were created read your Bible something did not come from nothing stop throwing away God the Lord God given common sense

  6. how is that boulder sitting on the asteroid like on earth instead of floating around even if the asteroid has an extremely low gravity?!

  7. That new physical proof of that asteroid contains facts of origin, and life to another era, i say nuke it away after it gets close and threaten our lives on latter notices

  8. According to Egyptian mythology, the Bennu was a self-created being said to have played a role in the creation of the world. Osiris is an Egyptian god, identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration. This illuminate is bringing DNA back to earth ,JESUS we need your help we are in danger .Amen

  9. Thanks for telling me where it’s going to land. I’m going to plan a trip on that date and take that bad boy home and store it in a vault and hopefully be a billionaire

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