Back to 1999: LINEAR, an automated asteroid search program, discovered Bennu, a space rock about 500 meters in diameter. It has piqued the interest of NASA, which is providing financial support for the LINEAR project. It will not take until 2016 before the US space agency sends the OSIRIS-REx space probe on a mission to Bennu. In 2020, the probe will collect material from the asteroid using what can only be called a cosmic vacuum cleaner. At that time, Bennu was more than 300 million kilometers from Earth. The “catch” is satisfactory: 250 grams of rocks.
Professor Dante Lauretta, the lead researcher on the mission, told the BBC: “When we return 250 grams of the asteroid Bennu to Earth, we are looking at materials that existed before our planet existed, and perhaps even dust that existed before our solar system.”
“We are trying to figure out our origins. How did the Earth form and why did it become a habitable world? How did the oceans get their water; where does the air in our atmosphere come from; and, most importantly, what is the source of the air? Organic molecules What is all life on Earth made of?”
Once the capsule lands safely on Earth, it will be transported to the Johnson Space Center in Texas, where a special room for rock analysis has been built.
Watch what you want, where and when you want.