NASA just landed on asteroid Bennu. What you need to know about the mission
NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft briefly touched down on a large asteroid Tuesday to swipe some rocks and dust from its surface to be returned to Earth for study, and on Wednesday, NASA revealed the first batch of images. The event marks a major first for NASA and a potential boon for science, space exploration and our understanding of the solar system.
The touch-and-go, or TAG, sample collection of asteroid 101955 Bennu was deemed a success at around 3:12 p.m. PT. NASA broadcast the TAG maneuver live on NASA TV and the agency's website. You can find a livestream rewatch at the end of this piece. To answer all your other Bennu questions, read on.
When did the mission begin?
Osiris-Rex as a concept has been in existence since at least 2004, when a team of astronomers first proposed the idea to NASA. After more than a decade of development, the spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sept. 8, 2016, atop an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The spacecraft spent the next 26 months cruising to Bennu, officially arriving on Dec. 3, 2018.