NASA is ready to share its findings of a sample taken from the 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid Bennu with the masses during a livestream at 11 AM ET today, October 11, on its YouTube channel. The reveal comes less than three weeks after the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft parachuted a capsule of Bennu’s fragments into a Utah-based Department of Defense training site. NASA then transferred the sample to its Johnson Space Center in Houston for a complete analysis.
OSIRIS-REx set off on its $1.2 billion mission in September 2016, reaching the 1,650-foot wide asteroid two years later. In 2020, the spacecraft burrowed into Bennu much deeper than expected, collecting the largest asteroid surface sample to date. The goal was to bring at least 2.1 ounces back, and initial estimates put the collection at around 8.8 ounces. NASA should reveal the exact specifications and the quality of the substance during its livestream, as well as other interesting tidbits uncovered.
As for OSIRIS-REx, it already has a new name and mission. The now-dubbed OSIRIS-APEX is on its way to asteroid Apophis to examine the impact of a close encounter with Earth in 2029. NASA expects the asteroid to come within 20,000 miles of the Earth’s surface — 90 percent closer than the moon.