Hey, everyone! We’re almost there! It’s almost Friday. You can do it! I didn’t want the day to go by without mentioning this. Tonight, at around 7pm US Eastern Daylight Time, a little over four hours from now as I type this sentence, NASA hopes to launch an Atlas V rocket carrying its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from Cape Canaveral.
OSIRIS-REx, is an acronym that stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. Pretty great acronym, that. It’ll be on a seven-year mission to reach the asteroid 101955 Bennu in 2018, retrieve a 16-gram sample, and return it to Earth in 2023. Bennu is thought to be rich in carbon, and the sorts of compounds that have been important in the formation of life on Earth.
This is exciting for lots of reasons, the least of which is because it’ll be the first American mission to grab a piece of an asteroid and bring it back to Earth. Just imagine the sorts of things we could learn about where we came from from this. The things NASA is doing with its unmanned program are stunning. Think of what we learned from New Horizons, the mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, and what we’re starting to learn from Juno about Jupiter. I’m really excited to see how this goes.
There’s more information from NASA and there’ll be a live stream of the launch here: https://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex
Here’s hoping it all goes smoothly. Good luck to everyone on the team. Go OSIRIS, Go!