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Friday, July 1, 2016

Bringing Asteroid Rocks To Earth

The Ambitious Missions to Bring Asteroid Rocks to Earth (+Video)

Pieces of the early solar system are locked away in asteroids but getting to them – and back – is no easy task. Belinda Smith reports.

Belinda Smith | June 30, 2016

Five billion years ago, our solar system was little more than a gassy, dusty disc whirling about the infant, weak sun.
Eventually, most of that matter clumped together to form grains, pebbles, rocks, then planets – worlds that evolved over billions of years to become gas-trapping giants, barren deserts or, in the case of Earth, a water-filled oasis.
But the leftover pieces – which became asteroids and comets – were consigned to whiz around the solar system, occasionally bumping into other objects, but generally remaining pristine.
Studying these relics can tell planetary scientists plenty about the formation of the solar system. Did early asteroids carry molecules and water essential for life to Earth? And what’s the likelihood that life arose elsewhere in the solar system?
This is why two missions – the Japanese space agency JAXA’s Hayabusa 2 and NASA’s OSIRIS-REx – aim to deliver pieces of asteroid to Earth and with them, answers to those fundamental questions.

"This concept image shows an astronaut retrieving a sample from the captured asteroid." Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (This NASA Asteroid Mission Is Going To Bring A Huge Chunk Of Space Rock To Earth. August 25, 2015) and (NASA aims to capture an bring back an asteroid boulder by 2025. March 25, 2015)>

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