Led by the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab, OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid and return it Earth for study. The material it returns will be the largest sample brought back from space since the Apollo era.
Launched on Sept. 8, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose makeup may record the earliest history of our solar system, and take a sample of its surface. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earthâs oceans. Bennu is also one of the more potentially hazardous asteroids, as it has a relatively high probability of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century.
OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennuâs physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission. Finally, asteroids like Bennu contain natural resources such as water, organics and precious metals. In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the solar system by robotic and manned spacecraft.
The mission's operations are headquartered at the UA. The mission will return samples back to Earth in 2023. Sample analysis continues until 2025.
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News About the Mission
OSIRIS-REx mission team wins 2022 Swigert Award for Space Exploration
The award recognizes the team behind the mission's successful collection of a pristine asteroid sample for laying "the groundwork for forging the next generation of scientists, astronomers, geologists and more."
Student-Led Initiative Will Launch Satellites as 'Ambassadors for World Peace'
The University of Arizona has joined a collaboration with Space Trust – a nongovernmental organization based in the United Kingdom – and the University of Nairobi in Kenya to develop a series of Earth-orbiting spacecraft built by university students.