The meeting is part of the agency’s $800-million mission to the Mars-Jupiter asteroid belt.
OSIRIS-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) will spend about a year surveying the asteroid “with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample,” according to NASA.
“Collecting and analyzing a sample of the asteroid could tell scientists a lot about the origins of our solar system, its planets, and the source of organic molecules that may have given rise to life on Earth,” Wired Magazine reported. If the mission planners are able to obtain a sample of at least 2 ounces, “it’ll be the largest such sample NASA has collected since the Apollo missions in the 1970s.”
The spacecraft will return the asteroid sample to Earth in September 2023.
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