What is OSIRIS-REx spacecraft?

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What is OSIRIS-REx spacecraft? Blog Image


Nasa's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, currently on a return journey from asteroid Bennu, recently made a critical course adjustment to ensure its successful arrival back to Earth.



  • It is a NASA spacecraft mission designed to study the near-Earth asteroid called Bennu.
  • The name OSIRIS-REx stands for "Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer."
  • Goal: To collect a sample weighing at least 2.1 ounces (59.5 grams) from asteroid 101955 Bennu (formerly known as 1999 RQ36) and then bring the sample to Earth.
  • The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
  • It is the first U.S. spacecraft to collect a sample from an asteroid. 
  • It was launched on Sept. 8, 2016.
  • It reached its asteroid target in 2018 and is bringing a small sample to Earth for study.
  • The samples will arrive on Earth in 2023. An extended mission will take the spacecraft into orbit around near-Earth asteroid Apophis in 2029.


Key facts about Asteroid Bennu:

  • It is located about 200 million miles away from the Earth.
  • It was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
  • It is a B-type asteroid, implying that it contains significant amounts of carbon and various other minerals.
  • Around 20-40 percent of Bennu’s interior is empty space, and scientists believe that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s creation, implying that it is roughly 4.5 billion years old.
  • Bennu is believed to have been born in the Main Asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and because of gravitational tugs from other celestial objects and the slight push asteroids get when they release absorbed sunlight, the asteroid is coming closer to Earth.


What is an Asteroid?

  • An asteroid is a small rocky object that orbits the Sun.
  • These objects are remnants from the early formation of our solar system, dating back billions of years.
  • Most asteroids are found in the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, known as the asteroid belt, but they can also be found in other regions of the solar system.


Q)  What is Regolith?

Regolith refers to the layer of loose, unconsolidated material that covers the solid bedrock on the surface of a planet, moon, or other celestial body. It is composed of a mixture of fragmented rocks, soil, dust, and other particles that have accumulated over time through various geological processes such as weathering, impact cratering, volcanic activity, and erosion. Regolith can vary greatly in thickness and composition depending on the specific geological history and environmental conditions of the celestial body.


Source: Osiris-Rex adjusts course to get closer to Earth with asteroid samples