At 7:42AM Pacific yesterday Sunday morning, OSIRIS-REx entered Earth’s atmosphere at 27,000mph, bringing the largest sample of extraterrestrial material home since Apollo. The robot mission quickly dropped off its collection canister, before zipping back into deep space on another mission. It took 10 minutes for the sample (SRC) to land.

The precious cargo it delivers consists of samples of dust and rubble from a carbon-rich, mountain-sized asteroid named Bennu, which is thought to have formed very early in the history of the Solar System. Astronomers have evidence that these asteroids have been drifting around the solar system unchanged for the past 4.5 billion years or so.

first view of orange parachute and black canister at site
Victoria’s team from Lockheed

The canister with parachute was dropped within a 59-kilometer by 15-kilometer ellipse (37-mile by 9-mile) inside the United States Department of Defense testing and training zone in the West Utah desert.

The material returned is expected to give scientists data to learn more about the formation of the Solar System, planet formation, and the source of organic compounds that led to life on Earth. It needs to be kept pristine, with multiple protective layers in the canister, and was placed in a portable clean room as soon NASA and Army helicopters landed. NASA determined the sample is safe.

NASA gif

OSIRIS-REx launched in 2016 and arrived at Bennu in 2018 and took the sample in 2020. You may recall that the scientists were startled when the lander found the asteroid was not solid, but light and foamy. They still captured up to 2 pounds of Bennu.

It’s crucial to understand more about the near-Earth asteroids that may be on an eventual collision course with our planet. Bennu will be the closest approach of any asteroid in the 22nd century, giving us time to respond appropriately.

Here’s NASA’s livestream of the mission

You can celebrate the mission with a special US Postage Stamp. We’ll have the first results for you on October 11, 2023.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.