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NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission prepares for touchdown on an asteroid

August 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

This week, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft practiced the maneuvers it will need to touchdown on the asteroid Bennu and collect a sample from it in October, which will be returned to Earth in 2023.

(CNN)This week, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft conducted a final rehearsed of all of the maneuvers it will need to touchdown on the asteroid Bennu and collect a sample from it in the fall.

The collection will occur on October 20, making it NASA's first spacecraft to collect a sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth.

The OSIRIS-REx will leave Bennu in 2021 and return to Earth in September 2023 carrying about 30 sugar packets worth of material from the asteroid.

On Tuesday, the spacecraft worked through its TAG, or Touch-and-Go sequence, which is how it will collect samples from the asteroid.

OSIRIS-REx then achieved its "Matchpoint" burn, where the spacecraft matches the asteroid's rotation so it can fly above the sample site.

In October, the spacecraft will actually reach the asteroid's surface and use its sampling arm to touch down for five seconds.

Another mission, Japan's Hayabusa-2, has collected samples from the asteroid Ryugu -- which could have come from the same parent body as Bennu -- and is already on its way back to Earth.

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