It’s been ten years and 800 million dollars in the making.
On Thursday night NASA will launch a mission to not only approach an asteroid in space, but bring some of it back to Earth.
The mission begins just after 7 PM with a launch from Cape Canaveral.
A rocket will blast off with a spacecraft about the size of an SUV.
Once in orbit this special spacecraft known as OSIRIS-REx will meet up with the asteroid Bennu. That won’t happen until 2018.
Then, after picking the perfect spot, it will nab a sample of the asteroid in 2020.
“The primary objective of OSIRIS-REx is to bring back 16 grams of pristine carbon rich material from the surface of Bennu. We’re really interested in the organic chemistry of these asteroids and the rolls they may have played in the origins of life,” says principal investigator Danta Lauretta.
That sample will be studied by researchers across the globe, and will hopefully give us clues about the formation of the solar system and other asteroids near Earth.
The sample won’t reach Earth until 2023.