NASA's Asteroid-Sampling Mission Green-lit; Set To Launch On Sept. 8 [VIDEO]By Ron S., UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA has set the launch date on Sept. 8 the launch of its first asteroid-sampling mission with the hopes of harvesting a large quantity of samples from a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu.
Just less than a week of the SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket explosion, which also destroyed the Amos-6 satellite, NASA had set its launch site at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as well, Space.com reported.
NASA has set the asteroid harvester, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, to launch on Sept. 8. The mission was revealed to be a two-year venture to intersect the near-Earth asteroid, Bennu.
The administration will make use of its own Atlas V rocket and set for launch at 7:05 p.m. EDT.
The recent explosion that occurred on the same site hardly hinders NASA's mission. The agency looks to harvest a significant quantity of samples from Bennu, which will be brought back to Earth for further studies.
This would be the first mission that a spacecraft is primarily set to retrieve a large chunk of an asteroid. The mission, if everything goes as planned, would see the spacecraft intersect the asteroid on its orbit, which would take about 2 years, and make a return trip to Earth. It is expected that OSIRIS-REx would touchdown to Earth in September 2023.
NASA racked up costs amounting to approximately $800 million. The mission could be a foreshadowing of what is partly about to come to space exploration. Many scientists and astronomers alike have wondered about the possibility of harvesting resources from nearby asteroids, The Guardian reported.
Asteroids from within our solar system had been known to harbor vast amounts of resources that can be found on Earth, but these space bodies contain these materials in high concentrations, such as carbon, iron, and a few more precious resources.
The team at NASA would have a daunting task ahead of them, as when the initial contact between Bennu and the spacecraft, the team would have to communicate with their equipment which would reach OSIRIS-REx after 14 mins, Nature reported.
In addition to the delayed relay of data, the manner of harvesting the material would only be enough for three attempts. The collector would blast nitrogen upon the surface to dislodge samples and into the sample collector.
NASA aims to collect at least 60 grams on the first attempt, but it has said it is hoping for a 2 kilogram haul.