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NASA Ames Asteroid Sample Return Experts Available for Interviews

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley invites media to interview entry systems experts that helped design the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer) sample return capsule and the thermal protection system that will keep the material safe as it endures temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit entering Earth’s atmosphere.

OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission and will touch down on Earth Sunday, Sept. 24. This marks the end of a seven-year journey to explore asteroid Bennu, collect a sample from its surface, and deliver it to Earth for a glimpse into the evolution of our solar system billions of years ago. The mission will deliver the asteroid Bennu sample capsule to Utah, touching down in the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City.

Scientists from around the world will study the sample over the coming decades to learn about the formation of the solar system and where the chemical ingredients for life originated about 4.5 billion years ago.

If you are interested in an interview, please email You can find links to media resources – which include animations of OSIRIS-REx, asteroid Bennu, and videos of sample recovery rehearsals here. More information on the OSIRIS-REx mission, landing, and upcoming media teleconference is below.

Learn more about the OSIRIS-REx mission at:

NASA Ames Experts

Scott Sandford helped design and test the air filter system on the OSIRIS-REx sample return canister that will protect it from contamination when it lands on the surface. Sandford will also lead the analysis of the sample return capsule.

Mairead Stackpoole is a materials scientist overseeing NASA Ames’ role in thermal protection systems for the OSIRIS-REx mission’s asteroid sample return capsule.

Todd White supported design and sizing of the thermal protection system for the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule. White is also involved in designing the heatshield and capsule for NASA’s next sample return mission.

Dr. Peter Marshall is a materials scientist supporting post-flight materials characterization of the OSIRIS-REx return capsule.

Dr. Ethiraj (Raj) Venkatapathy is the NASA Ames lead for all entry system technologies and advises the center and the Agency on technology sustainment needs and innovation requirements to meet current and future NASA mission goals.


Hillary Smith
Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley