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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Will Deliver 4.5 Billion-Year-Old Asteroid Samples


Published on: June 26, 2023,

NASA’s Osiris Rex will samples from asteroid Bennu to Earth. The samples are 4.5 billion years old and will help scientists’ planet formation and will be preserved for future research. Over 200 scientists worldwide will analyze these samples in a specially designed facility in at NASA’ Johnson Space center. If everything goes according to plan in September 2023, the sample will return capsule will separate from the spacecraft and enter the Earth’s atmosphere and then it will parachute safety to Earth for recovery at the Department of Defense’s Utha Test and Trading Range located 70 miles west of Salt Lake City.


The rocks and dust called regolith were collected from Benu’s surface in 2020. It was likely to ne well preserved, 4.5 billion year of remanent of the early solar system. The samples are very old which can provide insight into the role similar asteroids played in formation of planets and the delivery of organic material and water to Earth that may have ultimately led to life. Data collected from OSIRIS – Rex Mission will also help scientist better understand asteroids that could impact Eath and inform future asteroid deflection effort’s.


To investigate these questions scientists must carefully preserve, protect and handle the asteroid samples which will be examined and stored in a new curation facility managed by NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, or ARES, at Johnson. The division is home to the world’s most extensive collection of extraterrestrial materials — including lunar rocks, solar wind particles, meteorites, and comet samples.


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