OSIRIS-REx will be launching on an Atlas V rocket on tomorrow night for a sample return mission to near-Earth asteroid Bennu.
The journey will last about seven years total, with OSIRIS-REx reaching the asteroid in August 2018. Once it reaches Bennu, it will survey the area to find the best place for the sample to be taken.
OSIRIS-REx will hopefully collect a sample of about 0.13 pounds, or 60 grams. If successful, it will be the largest sample ever from a near-Earth asteroid.
The sample from Bennu could help scientists find out more about the Solar System and how life was started on Earth. Unlike the previous samples used that had fallen to the Earth and already mingled with Earth’s chemicals, this sample will be relatively untouched and could be incredibly helpful with future studies.
The spacecraft will leave Bennu around March 2021 and should return to Earth by September 2023.
The launch can be viewed live tomorrow at 7:05 PM ET on NASA-TV or at the video below.