NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft (which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) will be ending a seven-year mission on Sunday morning by returning an asteroid sample from space to Earth.
OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016, collected 8.8 ounces of rocks and soil in 2020 from asteroid Bennu, and has been on a return trip to Earth since May 2021.
The #OSIRISREx spacecraft has released the capsule containing a piece of asteroid Bennu. The capsule will plummet through space for four hours, enter the atmosphere over California and land about 13 minutes later in Utah. https://t.co/lK5QmILjtj pic.twitter.com/gECoNC1sHU— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) September 24, 2023
The spacecraft is expected to touch down approximately 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City at around 1055 ET. A live broadcast is scheduled to begin at about 1000 ET.
NASA said the rocks and dust collected from Bennu in 2020 - "will offer generations of scientists a window into the time when the Sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago."
After the sample is collected from the Utah desert, government scientists will transport the sample canister via a Boeing C-17 Globemaster to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday.