NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully taps an asteroid in attempt to a grab sample

Image: Lockheed Martin

This afternoon, a NASA spacecraft more than 200 million miles from Earth successfully touched the surface of an asteroid, in an attempt to grab a handful of pebbles and dust from the space rock. Data from the spacecraft confirmed that the vehicle did indeed touch the asteroid today, but NASA won’t know until tomorrow if it actually snagged a sample of material.

The spacecraft that just tapped the asteroid is OSIRIS-REx, and this sampling maneuver has been years in the making. The main purpose of the spacecraft is to bring a pristine sample of an asteroid back to Earth, so that scientists can study the material in a lab. Asteroids are considered to be primordial remnants of the early Solar System — objects that have remained relatively…

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