back to article NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is returning with its first-ever asteroid sample

NASA is preparing to nab its first-ever asteroid sample as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft drops a capsule containing fragments of the potentially hazardous object Bennu onto Earth. Launched in 2016, OSIRIS-REx, which stands for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer, took two …

  1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Science travels for a total of five years through outer space to land on an object 500m across and bring some of it back for analysis. Meanwhile, religion is worrying about people's pronouns.

  2. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    All your Asteroid are belong to us!

    I was at the Kennedy Space Centre for the launch on 8 Sept 2016. Watched the launch from the nearly empty car park after a day touring the complex. Was the highlight of a 2 week visit to the Orlando area, although Discovery Cove came a close second. I've followed it's progress ever since and would like to be the first to welcome our Asteroidal Overlords on their triumphant arrival in Utah. <LOL>

  3. HkraM

    Long term weather forecast

    > People in Europe and Africa will be able to see it with the naked eye, that's how close it will get.

    Weather forecast for that day: overcast

    1. kuiash

      Re: Long term weather forecast

      LOL! Reminds me of the '99 eclipse event. Me and 2 of my buddies made a holiday of it travelling from London to the West Country to pick up another buddy then down through Bristol to Devon and kept going. Living in tents and on a steady diet beans, bread, beer and buckets of scrumpy for a wee we finally arrived somewhere near Lizard Point where an enterprising farmer had converted his stables into a shower block and we stayed in his field for 5 pounds(!!!!). On the day itself it was thick cloud but I'd bought one of those battery powered Casio LCD TVs and we watched the eclipse beamed down from an RAF Nimrod high above us. Regardless of the cloud it was a beeping great week!

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Long term weather forecast

        buckets of scrumpy for a wee

        In typo, veritas.

      2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Long term weather forecast

        I went across to France on a ferry to see it - similar experience, although the cloud cover wasn't total so we got to see a bit of it. I remember all the seagulls went absolutely nuts at totality.

      3. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Long term weather forecast

        I was there. It went dark and the cows started going in to the farmyard.

        1. kuiash

          Re: Long term weather forecast

          Yup - all the birds stopped singing and the cows all lay down like they were going to sleep.. 10 minutes later is was as if nothing had happened.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Long term weather forecast

            Isn't that the beginning of the Midwich Cuckoos?

      4. sitta_europea Silver badge

        Re: Long term weather forecast

        Yeah, I nipped over to France to see it. Took my girlfriend (now wife) on the back of my new 1200 Bandit.

        It hissed it down the whole time. The only way we knew the that eclipse was actually happening was that the local dogs started howling and the street lights all came on.

        Still, it was good to see the look on the mechanic's face when I took the bike back for its 600-mile first service - three days after I'd bought it.

      5. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Long term weather forecast

        Same, we watched Phillipa Forrester on a fat back TV perched on a chair facing into the garden while we watched the overcast sky go dark! Was still quite surreal though but what a jinx!

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Missing one small detail

    > The device will barrel towards Earth and reenter the atmosphere at 0842 MDT (1542 UTC), reaching 27,650 miles per hour

    > On Wednesday, leaders from NASA working with the US military performed the final dress rehearsal for the return mission, dropping a dummy sample capsule from an aircraft

    It would be impressive if that aircraft managed to "drop" the test capsule at a speed of 27,650 miles per hour (44,500 kph for the other 95% of the world, or 1621844838 double-decker buses per fortnight for readers here). However, I suppose the old adage of never test for a condition you don't know how to handle applies. If the test capsule did fail, there's not a lot the americans could do to prevent the same thing from happening to the real thing.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Missing one small detail

      It's not going to be going 1621844838 ddb/ftn in the lower atmosphere in any case. That's the maximum velocity as it starts falling into earths gravity well, but the capsule will have encountered a lot of atmopsheric drag before it comes even close to the ground and will have slowed down considerably even without parachutes (That's what the heat shield is for. All that energy is going somewhere).

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Missing one small detail

        We do want the parachutes to open, otherwise it will be a bit difficult to find the asteroid granules when scattered across miles of Utah desert.

  5. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Sample canister contents

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the runners are taking their positions at the post for this exciting race.

    Lane 1: Monolith Monsters, a good runner on the wet, peppery but no salt, please

    Lane 2: Green Slime, from our Japanese stables

    Lane 3: The Blob, an old friend for Steve our senior stable lad

    Lane 4: is currently empty, Night Of The Comet having passed

    Lane 5: The Seed, a youngster, but already a hit with the Valley Girls

    Lane 6: Andromeda Strain, a firm favourite coming in on its home turf

    Lane 7: Calvin, that little ball of Life

    Lane 8: Audrey II, mean and green as always

    We were hoping to see a few more runners here, but The Nestene have been harrassed by the Just Stop Oil protestors and the trailer for Pod People has been delayed by a man running into traffic.

    We have two late runners: the Triffids are now moving into lane 9 and in lane 10 - oh, it appears to be an argument breaking out between the Krynoid and what appears to be his cousin from Surrey Green.

    1. Red Ted

      Re: Sample canister contents

      Lane 7: Calvin, that little ball of Life

      How about Calvin and Hobbs? Jumping out and shouting "BOO!" as the cannister is opened...

    2. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: Sample canister contents

      I proppose for Lane 9 The Colour out of Space. It comes from beyond the stars and doesn't answer to our universe's laws

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Life's history

    "Asteroids are thought to be chunks of leftover material forged during the planets' formation in the solar system" - certainly that's likely but the planets' formation was not simple ... go look at the full moon tonight and then the theories about how the moon appeared and what happened on our planet as a result?

    When you realize how the moon was probably formed it will be very interesting to look at all the "asteroid trash" floating around in our solar system and investigating how much of it reproduces our environment ... there's a lot of evidence suggesting that when the Earth first solidified, asteroids arriving on our planet probably resulted in life's creation.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Life's history

      I think compound probabilities go down rather than up.

  7. LB45

    I've seen the results of this 'project' before

    I'm Captain Morton. There's a fire sir!

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: I've seen the results of this 'project' before

      Could somebody *please* see to that baby!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well ....

    "... it will be carefully retrieved and flown to a clean room on the military range. The pod will be disassembled and shipped to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the sample will be documented, stored, and distributed to scientists around the world."

    Hmm ...

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Hope the "clean room" is more than just clean: really very well sealed.


  9. Scene it all

    I wonder what the cost comparison is

    between this NASA mission and what Japan did TWICE.

  10. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    Should be interesting as 1/10 is 23,800ish miles, and that takes it within the orbits of some satellites floating around up there.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Even if it doesn't side-swipe or t-bone any sats, I wonder if its 20-odd billion tonne mass is enough to have noticeable gravitational effects on nearby sat orbits?

  11. sitta_europea Silver badge

    > Evidently NASA does not have an Amazon Prime account.

    But on the bright side, this does mean that the sample won't be left under a neighbour's van and then get stolen by a small dog.

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      It's okay, the small dog just ate a fleet and is now avoiding sky food.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like