Science Magazine featured an upcoming NASA mission that launches this week to bring an asteroid sample back to Earth that could help scientists better understand the early solar system.
OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource, Identification, Security—Regolith Explorer) is the first US mission to collect a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for study.
The article mentions the role of Harry “Hap” McSween, professor emeritus of planetary geoscience, in this mission. He leads the curation of the Bennu samples, which will be kept at the Johnson Space Center. Once the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returns the asteroid sample to Earth, analyzing it will help scientists understand the early solar system and the dangers and resources of near-Earth space.
The dust harvest—anywhere from 60 to 300 grams—”won’t be much, but NASA scientists have become masters at working with practically nothing,” says McSween.
McSween is based in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.