OSIRIS-REx at Bennu: Overcoming challenges to collect a sample of the early Solar System

Dante S. Lauretta, Heather L. Enos, Anjani T. Polit, Heather L. Roper, Catherine W.V. Wolner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

50 Scopus citations


The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft arrived at its target, near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu, in December 2018. Observations by the onboard instruments revealed an asteroid substantially different from pre-encounter expectations, including a rough and rugged terrain that complicated the mission’s objective of collecting a sample. The team altered the mission profile to accommodate the reality of the target and incorporate lessons learned during operations. The data acquired by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Bennu characterized this primitive asteroid’s physical, chemical, and geological properties and provided critical context for the collected sample. In December 2019, after a year of operating in proximity, the team selected primary and backup sites for sample collection. In October 2020, OSIRIS-REx descended to the Bennu surface and collected a sample from the primary site, Nightingale. The spacecraft departs Bennu in 2021 and will return the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSample Return Missions
Subtitle of host publicationThe Last Frontier of Solar System Exploration
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780128183304
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Asteroids
  • Bennu
  • Sample return
  • Spacecraft
  • Spaceflight mission operations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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