After traveling over 3.9 billion miles through space, NASA’s groundbreaking OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has finally returned samples collected from near-Earth asteroid Bennu back to our planet. This marks the successful completion of a historic seven-year roundtrip mission to retrieve primordial pieces of our solar system’s formation.
On September 24th, 2023, the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule parachuted down to the Utah desert, delivering over 60 grams of cosmic dust and gravel gathered from the asteroid Bennu over 200 million miles away. Bennu offered OSIRIS-REx an astronomical treasure trove – a time capsule of the early solar system preserved for over 4.5 billion years.
Now safely delivered, the precious sample is undergoing initial assessments by NASA scientists at a secure Utah facility. This marks the first time humans have laid eyes on the asteroid material since OSIRIS-REx first launched in 2016. It promises to provide researchers with an unprecedented window into the birth of planets and insights into asteroids that could one day threaten Earth.
“This sample of a distant asteroid will help us uncover the early stages of planet formation and the origins of water and life itself,” said NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller. The hunk of cosmic rubble will soon depart to NASA’s Johnson Space Center for further analysis, storage and study for generations to come.
Background on Mission’s Achievements [Provide overview of OSIRIS-REx journey and accomplishments like precision sample collection from Bennu’s surface, setting longevity records, and paving way for future asteroid missions]
Significance for Understanding Solar System Origins [Expand on importance of sample analysis for learning about early solar system, planet formation, origins of life/water]
Conclusion: After traveling across the solar system and back, the OSIRIS-REx mission has expanded humanity’s understanding of asteroids and fulfilled the promise of its audacious mission – delivering a piece of the early solar system to eager scientists back on Earth. The analysis of this cosmic sample will reveal key insights into our cosmic history for decades to come.