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First U.S. Sample Return Mission to an Asteroid Previewed

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On Sept. 6, NASA previewed the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx mission, during a pre-launch news conference at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid. The spacecraft is targeted to launch Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, arriving in 2018, to survey the surface, retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material, and return it to Earth in 2023 for study. Analysis of the sample will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system’s evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.

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