Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS REx)
NASA will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck samples that could better explain our solar system's formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth.
NASA selected OSIRIS-REx after reviewing three concept study reports for new scientific missions, which also included a sample return mission from the far side of the Moon and a mission to the surface of Venus.
Asteroids are leftovers formed from the cloud of gas and dust -- the solar nebula -- that collapsed to form our sun and the planets about 4.5 billion years ago. As such, they contain the original material from the solar nebula, which can tell us about the conditions of our solar system's birth.
After traveling three years, OSIRIS-REx will approach the primitive, near Earth asteroid designated 1999 RQ36 in 2019. Once within three miles of the asteroid, the spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive surface mapping. The science team then will pick a location from where the spacecraft's arm will take a sample. The spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to collect more than two ounces of material for return to Earth in 2023.
Review Status: OSIRIS-REx was chartered as a project review by the SMD. The OSIRIS-REx PDR is scheduled for March, 2013.
Review Manager: Keith Robinson