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NASA/UA Choose OSIRIS-Rex Sample Site

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 3:06pm
Updated: Friday, December 13, 2019 - 11:36am

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In 2016, NASA and the University of Arizona dispatched their OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

Now, they have announced which area of the surface they plan to sample.

In August, the OSIRIS-REx team announced four candidate sites for the craft's touch-and-go sample collection.

The group has now chosen the "Nightingale" site located in a crater in Bennu's northern hemisphere.

Based on high-resolution images laser-mapped during low orbit, the site poses greater risks than the alternate site, "Osprey," but promises a good amount of the fine-grained material the sampler is designed to collect.

In addition, the area's cooler conditions are more likely to preserve water and organic materials from the early solar system, if present.

The sampling will occur in August 2020 and could return 2 or more ounces of material to Earth.