back to article NASA's OSIRIS-REx is off to nick some rocks from asteroid Bennu

NASA has successfully launched its first mission sending a spacecraft to an asteroid with the aim of returning samples of space rocks back to Earth. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft blasted off from NASA’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:05pm EDT (12:05am BST) yesterday. After almost an hour, OSIRIS-REx separated …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cluck, cluck, cluck...

    "and will soon do something that no other NASA spacecraft has done – bring back a sample from an asteroid."

    If the Bods at NASA can see that far ahead then perhaps they could email me this Fridays Euromillions Jackpot numbers?.....i would be most grateful.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: If the Bods at NASA can see that far ahead

      If they can "see" that far ahead it is because they are engineers, scientists and astronomers and they are working with rules that have been well-proven that they know by heart.

      The only rule about the Euromillions is that it is specifically tailored so that you lose. Which doesn't keep me from playing a ticket regularly, just like you.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Did Space Rocks bring life?

    Probably not, really unlikely and a "Turtles all the way down" argument. Conditions here far better.

    It doesn't answer anything if they find life or not. In the extremely unlikely scenario of complex DNA that matches DNA here, which contaminated which?

    1. DNTP Silver badge

      Re: Did Space Rocks bring life?

      I suspect (as a molecular geneticist) that the question is not exactly "life" or "DNA", but rather concerns the organic precursors to the complex compounds associated with simple life on Earth. Did these precursors arise terrestrially, perhaps catalyzed by planetary geochemical processes such as active volcanism and lightning discharges, or can they arise in protoplanetary bodies that lack long-term tectonic and atmospheric conditions? This information will likely be useful in the search for life on other planets- the more we understand how and where prerequisite chemical conditions originate, the better we will be able to focus our efforts towards likely candidate worlds.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Did Space Rocks bring life?

        DNTP - nah. We may find precursors to life on other rocks but as you have pointed out these precursors can so much more easily be made on the much bigger rocks called planets. So even if we do find them on protoplanetary bodies it really doesnt add much to the argument as if it does occur on a protoplanetary body we know its probably really really not going to make it from the protoplanetary body to the planet the aforementioned body crashes into.

  3. Mystereed

    Bennu or Benny?

    I read it as Benny the first time and immediately had a vision of a large rock zooming around being chased by first a spaceprobe, then a buxom nurse then a milkman etc, all to an annoyingly repetitive soundtrack :-)

    Of course anyone who doesn't know/remember the Benny Hill end episode sketches will be wondering wtf is he on?

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      OR...

      "Of course anyone who doesn't know/remember the Benny Hill end episode sketches will be wondering wtf is he on silly and wonderful entertainment have we been missing?"

      Which can only be answered thusly

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    Whatever the final outcome, I'll raise a glass to its success (Affligem Tripel, today)

  5. Baldy50

    Could find gold!

    The thing is, could be this a precursor to a mining operation?

    If the samples contain rare earth elements that are worth the expense of bringing it into a stable orbit to be used in manufacturing etc and if they manage to get a working, reliable space elevator in the future it would make it far easier to get the stuff back to big blue!

    Anyone got any mining knowledge? We made them all redundant you know and killed the whole industry off too.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Could find gold!

      You would devalue whatever resources found if you sent them back to earth. The biggest value they would potentially have would be that they are already IN space.

    2. cray74 Silver badge

      Re: Could find gold!

      If the samples contain rare earth elements that are worth the expense of bringing it into a stable orbit to be used in manufacturing

      I'd aim a bit lower. Or higher, rather. Given delivering material to Earth would be fantastically expensive, either because you lacked a space elevator or because you had to build one, I'd go looking for resources that were handy in space, like water. A sizable supply of near-Earth water would significantly reduce the mass of propellants you need to launch from Earth and ease access to the rest of the solar system. Bonus: the water and regolith offer the mass needed for radiation shielding.

      Space mining needn't start big and fancy to be useful.

  6. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    “We were able to deliver OSIRIS-REx on time and under budget to the launch site, and will soon do something that no other NASA spacecraft has done – bring back a sample from an asteroid.”

    I certainly don't want to pooh-pooh OSIRIS-REx, and maybe it's comparing apples and oranges - but 47 years ago NASA had spacecraft that brought back samples from the Moon.

    "It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin when the world trembled at the sound of our rockets." -- Captain Ramius, Военно-морской флот СССР (fict.)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "but 47 years ago NASA had spacecraft that brought back samples from the Moon.""

      Not only that, but with commercial launchers in competition with each other now, what might we be doing 7 years from now when the samples are due back? Might we have something in say, 5 years that can get out there, snag a sample and be back before this one? Well, I can dream, can't I?

      (Yes, I know, shades of the generation ship dilemma in SF where the slowboat gets overtaken on it's multi-century trip only to arrive and finds a long established colony waiting to greet them thanks to advances in propulsion tech.)

  7. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    deliver OSIRIS-REx on time and under budget

    Let's hope that it is not bound by the unholy engineering trinity of "on time, on budget, on spec - pick two out of three".

  8. Marc 25

    The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill

    It's like NASA has never watched the Creep Show films!!!

    Nice knowing you all, now, where did I leave my shotgun?

  9. D@v3

    interesting choice of words...

    "no other NASA spacecraft"

    and

    "the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth"

    to me, this makes it sound like, yeah well, other people have done this, but not NASA and not the US.

    I could be wrong (quite often am) but has anyone else returned samples from an asteroid?

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