NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to collect samples from Asteroid Bennu

  • IASbaba
  • October 22, 2020
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to collect samples from Asteroid Bennu

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Space

In news

  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx — Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — spacecraft shall collect samples of dust and pebbles from asteroid Bennu and deliver them back to Earth in 2023

Important value additions

Asteroid Bennu

  • The asteroid was named after an Egyptian deity by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina in 2013 who won NASA’s “Name that Asteroid” competition.
  • The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
  • Bennu is an asteroid located at a distance of about 200 million miles away from the Earth.


  • Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. 
  • They are also called minor planets. 
  • Asteroids are divided into three classes.
  • First, those found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.
  • The second group is that of trojans that share an orbit with a larger planet. 
  • NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans. 
  • In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.
  • The third is Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth
  • Over 1,400 NEA are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

Do you know?

  • OSIRIS-REx mission is NASA’s first mission meant to return a sample from the ancient asteroid. 
  • The mission was launched in 2016, it reached its target in 2018 and since then, the spacecraft has been trying to match the velocity of the asteroid.
  • Scientists study asteroids to look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun since asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system. 

Another reason for tracking them is to look for asteroids that might be potentially hazardous.

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