30. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid “Smash & Grab” – Mission Update

Interview with Project Scientist Dr. Jason P. Dworkin

On October 20th, 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made history as it collected samples from asteroid Bennu, which are expected to return to Earth in 2023. For this episode I’m pleased to introduce Dr. Jason Dworkin, the project scientist for OSIRIS-REx, for an update and more details on the OSIRIS-REx mission.

About OSIRIS-REx

(Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer)

https://www.asteroidmission.org/ OSIRIS-REx seeks answers to the questions that are central to the human experience: Where did we come from? What is our destiny? Asteroids, the leftover debris from the solar system formation process, can answer these questions and teach us about the history of the sun and planets.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently orbiting Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose regolith may record the earliest history of our solar system. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans. Bennu is also one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids, as it has a relatively high probability of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century. OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission. Finally, asteroids like Bennu contain natural resources such as water, organics, and precious metals. In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the solar system by robotic and crewed spacecraft.

About Dr. Jason Dworkin

https://science.gsfc.nasa.gov/sed/bio/jason.p.dworkin

Jason Dworkin is the Project Scientist for OSIRIS-REx and NASA’s Senior Scientist for Astrobiology. Jason’s objective is to assess the organic species available for the origin and early evolution of life with a focus is on understanding the extraterrestrial input and origin of molecules relevant for life. This objective has been to study increasingly documented and constrained systems, from plausibly early Earth chemistry, chemistry of astrophysically relevant laboratory ices, organic and chiral analysis of meteorites, to analysis of sample returned material and how to protect that material from contamination. This research employs modern analytical methods to examine authentic samples of the early solar system as well as laboratory models of ancient environments. This involves both directing research in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and scientific leadership in NASA sample return and in situ missions.

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