Sep 25, 2023
An unmanned spacecraft flung a small can of space rocks to Earth's surface Sunday. The landing was met with cheers from mission team members that include a famous rock star. The rocks were scooped from an asteroid that may hold clues to the origins of life on this planet.
The capsule landed safely in a Utah desert Sunday morning. It contains about a small Starbucks cup worth of rocks taken from an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building. The capsule was whisked away to a lab so its contents can be analyzed.
Experts called the mission a major breakthrough. It could unlock clues about how life on Earth began.
“The impossible became possible,” declared NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
The 9 ounce sample was taken in late 2020 from the Bennu asteroid. It was 200 million miles away from Earth at the time.
Asteroids are believed to contain material needed for life on Earth. The planet was hit often by rocks from outer space early in its development.
Queen guitarist Brian May helped the mission. He is also an astrophysicist and co-author of a book about Bennu. He helped identify the region on Bennu where the samples would be taken.
May praised the Osiris-Rex team. He said he was proud to be a member.
Photo from Reuters.
Reflect: What do you find most exciting about space exploration, and why?
This interactive resource from NASA provides satellite imagery and data displayed on a 3-D animated image of the Earth.
NASA's Earth Minute: My Name Is Aerosol
This is a brief explanatory video which discusses where aerosols come from and the different effects they have on our environment.
NASA Global Warming Demonstration
This video demonstrates the heat capacity difference between air and water using a flame and balloons, which teachers in the classroom can recreate.