NASA Explorers Season 6, Episode 4: Preparing for the Asteroid | Summary and Q&A

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December 7, 2023
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NASA
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NASA Explorers Season 6, Episode 4: Preparing for the Asteroid

TL;DR

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission aims to bring back pristine samples from an asteroid to study the formation of our solar system and the origins of life on Earth.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main objective of the OSIRIS-REx mission?

The main objective of the mission is to collect a pristine sample from an asteroid and study it to understand the formation of our solar system and investigate the potential delivery of organic compounds that triggered the origin of life on Earth.

Q: How does the mission benefit both science and engineering?

From a scientific perspective, the mission provides invaluable insights into the early solar system by bringing back untouched samples. From an engineering standpoint, it demonstrates our ability to safely and accurately deliver something from space to the Earth, pushing the boundaries of technology.

Q: Who will be the most stressed out during the mission?

While it is challenging to identify one person, the principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, who has worked on this mission for almost 20 years, is likely to experience a combination of stress and excitement. However, the entire team, who have invested years in the mission, will feel a mix of nerves and anticipation.

Q: What are the potential risks and challenges in recovering the sample return capsule?

One possible risk is if the batteries in the capsule catch fire upon landing, which could delay the recovery process. Another challenge is the potential failure of parachutes, resulting in a hard landing that could rupture the capsule. However, these risks are considered low, and the team is well-prepared for various scenarios.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The OSIRIS-REx mission has been years in the making and is now ready to release and collect a sample from an asteroid, representing decades of work and scientific advancement.

  • The mission not only offers valuable scientific insights into the formation of our solar system but also showcases the engineering capabilities of delivering something safely from space to the Earth.

  • One of the main goals of the mission is to determine if carbon-rich asteroids delivered the building blocks of life to Earth, which could provide crucial information on the origin of life.

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