NASA new space mission aims at unveiling origin of life [S&T]
- The idea for a device that could unveil the origins of life in our solar system began with a Solo cup.
- Next month, an invention inspired by that plastic, disposable beverage cup will launch into space aboard the United States’ first robotic mission aimed at scooping up 4.5 billion-year-old dust from an asteroid.
- The $800 million NASA mission is called OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer
- The unmanned spacecraft will travel to an asteroid near Earth called Bennu to collect space dust that may reveal how the materials necessary for life — such as carbon and ice — made their way to our planet.
- The idea is not to land on the asteroid, but approach closely and “high-five” it for several seconds to gather some debris that can be studied more closely back on Earth. The problem is that in zero gravity, such a device could just scatter dust instead of collecting it.