NASA / GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft taking a sample from an asteroid using its TAGSAM (touch and go sample acquisition mechanism). OSIRIS-REx is a planned space mission due to launch in 2016, to travel to the asteroid 101955 Bennu, take a sample, and return it to Earth for analysis. Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid, which comes close to Earth every six years. It is a carbonaceous asteroid, and will provide valuable information about the history and formation of the Solar System, and the arrival of organic material on Earth. Studying the composition will also help understand how such near-Earth asteroids could be deflected in case they are discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. The name is an acronym for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer.
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