7 Out-of-This-World Facts About NASA’s OSIRIS-REx and Asteroid Bennu

Welcome to HowSmart.net, where space meets trivia, and facts are more fun than fiction! Today, we’re hitching a ride on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft – a mission that’s part interstellar cowboy, part cosmic detective.

OSIRIS-REX PE Examination: Asteroid Bennu
Asteroid Bennu Rocks. Photo: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

1. The Space Cowboy Rodeo: OSIRIS-REx Launches (September 8, 2016)

Picture this: a spacecraft named OSIRIS-REx (because NASA loves acronyms more than cats love cardboard boxes) sets off on a galactic rodeo. Its mission? To lasso samples from a space rock named Asteroid Bennu. It’s like grabbing a souvenir from a place 200 million miles away – talk about long-distance shopping!

2. Bennu or Bust: The Cosmic Meet-Cute (December 3, 2018)

Fast forward to 2018, and OSIRIS-REx finally gets cozy with Bennu. It’s the ultimate meet-cute but in space, with less rom-com and more science. This rendezvous wasn’t just for Instagram snaps; it was the beginning of a beautiful, data-filled friendship.

3. The Big Scoop: Touchdown on Bennu (October 20, 2020)

OSIRIS REx meets Asteroid Bennu
ORISIS-REx meets Asteroid Bennu. Screenshot: NASA

In 2020, OSIRIS-REx did what any self-respecting space explorer does: it reached out and touched someone, or rather, something. It’s not your usual high-five but a complex maneuver to scoop up Bennu’s ancient dirt. This was like playing the claw game in the arcade, but the prize was 4.5 billion-year-old cosmic dust!

4. Homeward Bound: The Sample’s Stellar Journey (May 10, 2021)

Now, with its precious cargo, OSIRIS-REx has begun its long trek home. Imagine carrying a bag full of universe secrets through 200 million miles of cosmic wilderness. That’s one heck of a delivery service!

5. Earthbound Treasure: The Bennu Booty Lands (September 24, 2023)

In September 2023, the Sample Return Capsule made its grand entrance, landing in Utah. It’s not exactly the red carpet, but it’s quite the VIP treatment for a bunch of space rocks.

6. The Unboxing Event of the Century (January 19, 2024)

The sample container opening was like the unboxing video to end all unboxing videos. NASA’s team faced some stubborn fasteners – proving that even in space, a good old-fashioned screwdriver is a must-have.

7. Bennu Up-Close: A Photographic Feast (January 2024)

Finally, NASA released high-resolution photos of Asteroid Bennu’s samples. It’s like getting a close-up of an ancient relic, but it was floating in space instead of being buried in the Earth.

And there you have it, space trivia aficionados – a journey filled with cosmic wonders. The OSIRIS-REx mission isn’t just a scientific triumph; it’s a testament to human curiosity and our endless quest for knowledge. So, the next time you look up at the night sky, remember: there’s a whole universe of trivia waiting to be discovered!

🙋‍♀️ FAQ: Asteroid Bennu Questions and Answers

1. What was the primary goal of the OSIRIS-REx mission?

The main goal of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission was to play interstellar tag with asteroid Bennu and grab a piece to bring back home. It’s like going to the cosmic store and saying, “One asteroid sample, please!” This was not just for the thrill of it but to understand the origins of our solar system and perhaps uncover the secrets to the beginning of life on Earth.

2. How long did OSIRIS-REx take to reach Bennu?

OSIRIS-REx took about two years to reach asteroid Bennu, launching in September 2016 and arriving in December 2018. That’s a journey of over 200 million miles – talk about a long commute! It’s like driving from New York to Los Angeles about 71,428 times without stopping for gas.

3. What makes Bennu samples so significant?

The samples from Bennu are like a time capsule from the early solar system, over 4.5 billion years old. Studying them is like reading the diary of a teenage solar system – it’s full of juicy secrets about planet origins and life. Scientists believe these samples could give us clues about the building blocks of life and how Earth got its water and organic materials.

4. How did NASA collect samples from an asteroid?

NASA used a technique called Touch-And-Go, or TAG, which is essentially a cosmic hit-and-run. OSIRIS-REx briefly touched Bennu’s surface with a robotic arm, puffed out some nitrogen gas to stir up dust and pebbles, and then scooped them up. It’s like using a vacuum cleaner but collecting space rocks instead of cleaning your carpet.

5. What challenges did NASA face while retrieving the Bennu samples?

The biggest challenge was the ‘touch-and-go’ sample collection itself. Imagine trying to park a spacecraft on a skyscraper-sized, spinning-top-shaped asteroid with a surface as rocky as a parking lot after a rock concert. Plus, there was a nail-biter moment when the sample container got jammed with larger rocks, making it challenging
to seal, a bit like trying to close an overstuffed suitcase after a vacation.

6. What can we expect to learn from the Bennu samples?

From the Bennu samples, scientists hope to learn about the chemistry of the early solar system. They also wish to learn about
asteroids’ role in delivering life-forming compounds to Earth. It’s like getting a recipe book for planets and possibly life itself. These samples might tell us about the solar system’s water and organic materials distribution. They might also tell us how planets formed and even how life began.

🔥 News Trivia Quiz Time

Now that you know all the facts about Asteroid Bennu and its new pal ORISIS-REx, how about a news quiz?


We cross-checked our facts about Astroid Bennu and ORISIS-REx with the world’s leading news outlets.

Champion-level Trivia Content

Why settle for the ordinary when you can have the extraordinary? With our tailored trivia quizzes, you’re not just getting questions; you’re getting an experience. And the coolest part? It’s all tailor-made for you.
So why wait? Order now, and let’s create some unforgettable content together!