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New NASA Mission For 2016: OSIRIS-Rex

NASA has announced yesterday a new space exploration mission. The mission entails launching a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and to use a robotic arm to gather samples in aims to better understand the formation of our solar system and how life began. The mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) for short.

OSIRIS Rex will be the first United States mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth. The mission will cost us $1 Billion dollars and will take place at the Kennedy Space Center. The asteroid, RQ36 is about 1,900 feet in diameter and about the size of five football fields. The asteroid is also rich in carbon, a key organic element to life.

The mission will measure the “Yarkovsy effect”, a small push that is caused by the sun on the asteroid as it absorbs sunlight and re-emits as heat. The Yarkovsy effect helps us understand what affects the trajectories of asteroids and will help us prevent possible collisions with Earth in the future. This will be the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, with the first launching in 2006. The second launch will come in August and be the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and study the planet’s atmosphere and interior. I am exciting to learn about NASA’s findings and look forward to the future.

Photo Courtesy of NASAGoddard
Photo Courtesy of NASAGoddard