One year later: OSIRIS REx launch
Today, Sept. 8, marks the one-year anniversary of the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS RE-x) launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 8, 2016. OSRIS-REx is now traveling approximately 10 million kilometers from Earth to asteroid Bennu, according to asteriodmission.org.
OSRIS-REx will be collecting data to answer questions about the beginnings of the solar system. It will collect physical parts of the asteroid and space debris, and mark their chemical properties. Asteroids like Bennu could contain natural resources such as water, organics and precious metals, according to NASA. In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the Solar System by robotic and manned spacecraft.
OSIRIS-REx has been orbiting the sun for a year, and will make a fly-by of Earth on Sept. 22, 2017. Earth's gravitational field will pull the spacecraft toward the planet, so it can use a small amount of Earth's orbital energy. This additional energy will increase OSIRIS-REx's orbital inclination and sling it back into space for a rendezvous with Bennu, according to NASA.
OSRIS-REx is estimated to reach Bennu in 2018 and return to Earth with asteroid material for study in 2023, according to NASA’s mission plan.
Written by Olivia Jones