NASA's Osiris-Rex recently returned from a seven-year mission to asteroid Bennu, bringing back soil and rock samples. The spacecraft launched on September 8, 2016, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida and landed in the Utah Desert of the USA.
The rocks and dust collected from Bennu's surface in 2020 will provide insight into the formation of the Sun and planets around 4.5 billion years ago.
What are Asteroids?
Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun, and there are many of them in our solar system. Most asteroids are found in the main asteroid belt, which is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. However, some asteroids can be found in the orbital path of planets, such as Earth.
- Asteroids are leftovers from the early formation of our solar system. As a result, they can provide scientists with valuable information about the history of planets and the sun. Asteroids come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made up of different materials, including rocks, clays, and metals like nickel and iron.
- Scientists have studied meteorites to learn about asteroids, as meteorites are fragments of asteroids that have landed on Earth.
- NASA has also sent several spacecraft to observe and study asteroids, such as the NEAR Shoemaker and Dawn missions.
- Through these missions, scientists have been able to learn more about asteroids, including the giant asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.
Did you know that NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration?
- It's a government agency in the United States that focuses on science and technology related to air and space.
- The Space Age began in 1957 with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. NASA was established the following year to oversee U.S. space exploration and aeronautics research.
- The administrator of NASA, who is responsible for leading the agency, is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate through a vote.