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NASA's Osiris-Rex is closer than ever to asteroid Bennu

The spacecraft will scoop up asteroid samples by mid-2020.

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Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Osiris-Rex Bennu

Almost there: Osiris-Rex will be close enough to Bennu to scoop up samples in mid-2020.

NASA

NASA's asteroid mission is getting closer and closer, with the Osiris-Rex spacecraft lining up to collect samples from the Nightingale area of Bennu. On Tuesday, it will fly just 820 feet, or 250 meters, above Bennu's surface, Osiris-Rex tweeted.

Osiris-Rex, which last fall spotted an unexpected black hole located 30,000 light-years away, has also located water on Bennu.

NASA decided in December taht Osiris-Rex would collect samples at the Nightingale area of the asteroid, despite the location having "some hazards around it," according to principal investigator Dante Lauretta. Nightingale gives Osiris-Rex the best chance of getting its robot hands on "organic material and water-bearing material," NASA says.

Sample collection is scheduled for mid-2020, with Osiris-Rex to return to Earth in late 2023.

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