NASA will launch $ 800m probe to land on near-Earth Bennu asteroid (VIDEO)

NASA will launch $ 800m probe to land on near-Earth Bennu asteroid (VIDEO)NASA plans to launch an $800 million probe that will land on a much larger asteroid, a remnant from the beginning of the solar system that should provide clues to Earth’s origins.

The mission OSIRIS-REx, which actually stands for something (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security—Regolith Explorer), is slated to blast off on Sept. 8, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The mission “advances our more practical goals of understanding the resources of the near earth Solar System—as well as the hazards,” Jeffrey Grossman, a mission scientist, said. Last week a 100-foot asteroid hurtling toward Earth missed by just 50,000 miles (fifth of the distance to the moon).

The probe will visit a “near-Earth object” that traces an orbit around the Sun similar to the Earth’s. The asteroid, called Bennu, is leftover from the beginning of the solar system. It might contain some of the chemical secrets about how the Earth was seeded with the potential for life.

Being a near-Earth object, Bennu passes Earth every six years, coming so close that scientists give it a 1-in-2,700 chance of hitting us over the next two centuries. NASA hopes it will be able to get a better sense of the risk asteroids pose to Earth.
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