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NASA Set To Deliver Biggest Asteroid Sample Yet What You Need To Know

Asteroid Bennu
Image Source: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Hold onto your hats, folks, because Earth’s about to receive a cosmic care package that’s out of this world! NASA’s got a wild delivery in the works, and it’s all about an asteroid rendezvous that’s been seven years in the making.

A NASA spacecraft is gonna swing by Earth on Sunday, and it’s got a hot date with the asteroid Bennu. We’re talkin’ about a full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal quest, folks!

The spacecraft is packin’ a special something – a capsule with what’s expected to be a whopping cupful of Bennu’s finest rubble. We’re talking pebbles and dust galore, not just a measly teaspoon like those asteroid collectors over in Japan brought home. Nope, this is the real deal, a cosmic treasure trove that could unlock the secrets of our solar system’s birth.

Now, here’s where it gets spicy. That capsule is gonna parachute into the Utah desert while its mothership, the Osiris-Rex, jets off on a mission to cozy up to another asteroid. Can you believe it? One minute it’s a wild ride, and the next, it’s a jaw-dropping adventure.

But wait, there’s more! This ain’t just your average space stroll. Osiris-Rex had a real showdown with Bennu, doing a pogo stick-style touchdown and snatching up a sample. Things got so wild that some of that cosmic loot tried to make a break for it into space! But don’t you worry, the clever folks at NASA managed to wrangle it all back in.

Dante Lauretta, the mastermind behind this mission from the University of Arizona, summed it up best: “I ask myself how many heart-pounding moments can you have in one lifetime because I feel like I might be hitting my limit.”

Now, let’s talk about this asteroid Bennu. It’s like the leftovers from a cosmic collision, a little chunk of rock that’s just over a third of a mile wide and as rugged as your grandpa’s beard. It’s been dancing around the sun for eons, and scientists reckon it holds the secrets to our solar system’s ancient history.

But here’s the kicker: Bennu might be a bit of a cosmic troublemaker. It’s got a date with Earth in 2182, and that could spell trouble. Osiris-Rex’s close encounter could help us figure out how to give it a cosmic nudge if things get dicey.

So, here’s the game plan. Osiris-Rex is gonna release that sample capsule from a whopping 63,000 miles out, and it’ll touch down in Utah with all the drama of a Hollywood blockbuster. We’re talking a 27,650 mph descent, a main parachute to slow things down, and finally, a touchdown at a cool 11 mph.

Once it’s safe and sound, that capsule’s getting whisked away to a super-secret clean lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. They’re gonna handle that Bennu loot with kid gloves, and we’ll all get a front-row seat to the cosmic reveal on October 11th.

But hold onto your space helmets, ’cause this fall is all about asteroids! After Osiris-Rex’s touchdown, we’ve got another asteroid hunter, Psyche, launching on October 5th. It’s on a collision course with a metal asteroid. And if that’s not enough, Lucy’s swinging by an asteroid belt party on November 1st, and it’s all a warmup for a tour of the so-called Trojans.

Now, don’t get too greedy, folks. Psyche, Lucy, and Osiris-Rex won’t be packing souvenirs from their asteroid escapades. Nope, this is all about the thrill of the chase.

And let’s not forget, this isn’t NASA’s first rodeo. They’ve done deep space sample returns before, and they’re not stopping now. From moon rocks to comet dust, they’ve been bringing back cosmic treasures since the ’60s. So, stay tuned, space fans, ’cause the adventure’s just getting started!

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