Science questions

Here is a list of some of the questions scientists hope to answer with the Origins-Spectral Identification-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission

Goal: Map the Asteroid

  • What is the asteroid like up close?
  • Where should we sample?
Artist's rendition of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft

Artist's rendition of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/NGSFC/UA)

Goal: Examine the sample site and collect the sample

  • What kind of materials will we find?
  • Can we find organic (carbon-rich) materials?

Goal: Return the sample to Earth and analyze it

  • How old is the material on 1999 RQ36?
  • How much carbon and water does the sample contain?
  • What does the sample reveal about the early Solar System?
  • What does the sample reveal about asteroids as sources of Earth's water?

Goal: Take measurements of the asteroid's orbit

  • Is 1999 RQ36 an impact hazard to the Earth?
  • What can 1999 RQ36 reveal about how asteroid orbits change?

Goal: Compare data to telescope observations

  • Are the interpretations of telescope observations confirmed by close-up observations?