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Nasa probe to touch asteroid, help answer how planets formed, life began

The spacecraft will briefly touch Bennu's surface around July 2020 to collect at least 60 grams (equal to about 30 sugar packets) of dirt and rocks

IANS  |  Washington 

Insight

A designed to bring a small sample from to Earth is on course to arrive at its destination on December 3, the US space agency has said.

Launched in September 2016, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) has been slowly approaching Bennu, said on Thursday.

The will spend almost a year surveying the with five scientific instruments with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample.

The spacecraft will briefly touch Bennu's surface around July 2020 to collect at least 60 grams (equal to about 30 sugar packets) of dirt and rocks.

It might collect as much as 2,000 grams, which would be the largest sample by far gathered from a space object since the Apollo Moon landings.

The spacecraft will then pack the sample into a capsule and travel back to Earth, dropping the capsule into Utah's west desert in September 2023, where scientists will be waiting to collect it, said.

The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

To highlight the arrival of the agency's first sample return mission, NASA will air a live event on December 3 from 11.45 am to 12.15 pm EST.

The programme will originate from OSIRIS-REx's mission control at the in Littleton, Colorado, and will air on NASA Television, Live, Ustream, and the agency's website.

First Published: Fri, November 30 2018. 15:46 IST
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