NASA's OSIRIS-REx headed back to Earth with asteroid samples

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 11, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - NASA scientists are one step closer to learning more about the origins of our solar system and life as we know it.

A spacecraft launched five years ago to collect samples from an ancient asteroid is now on its way back to Earth.

OSIRIS-REx has been at the Bennu asteroid for about two and a half years.

"OSIRIS-REx is an acronym, of course, and the 'O' is for origins. For me, that's the most important aspect of the mission," said project scientist Jason Dworkin, "to understand the origins of the solar system, the origins of life."

Dworkin said the samples will provide generations of scientists with material to study to better understand how planets are made.

Project scientists need to have a lot of patience.

Dworkin says he's been working to get an asteroid sample since his daughter was a toddler. She's now graduating high school.

Related: Astronomers now closer to understanding one of the hardest-to-reach places in the universe

And he'll have to wait a bit longer.

OSIRIS-REx won't be back to Earth until September of 2023.

You can learn more about the mission here.