New NASA probe will return samples from distant asteroid
A visualisation of the OSIRIS-REx probe. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
By Vandana Gupta
NASA has announced it will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016. The mission, called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (or OSIRIS-REx), will return samples of the near-Earth asteroid 1999 RQ36.
While visiting 1999 RQ36, OSIRIS-REx will also extensively map the asteroid, providing accurate data about its shape and surface characteristics. The 580-metre wide asteroid is thought to be rich in carbon. In studying it scientists from NASA hope to glean more information about what the early Solar System was like.