TUCSON – With people all across the world waiting for the New Year confetti to sprinkle down, out in space, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx was 70 million miles away, setting records.
The OSIRIS-REx mission, which is led by the University of Arizona, launched in 2016 with hopes of catching up with asteroid Bennu on its orbit around the sun. Now that the spacecraft has arrived at the asteroid, it will survey the surface, collect a sample and deliver it safely back to Earth.
At around 12:43 p.m. New Year’s Eve, the OSIRIS-REx carried out a single, eight-second burn of its thrusters. This broke a space exploration record, according to officials.
“The team continued our long string of successes by executing the orbit-insertion maneuver perfectly,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “With the navigation campaign coming to an end, we are looking forward to the scientific mapping and sample site selection phase of the mission.”
The spacecraft will come back to Earth with a sample from the asteroid. It will land in the Utah desert on Sept. 24, 2023.