The Conclusion of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission as It Safely Returns an Asteroid Sample to Earth

On September 24, 2023, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission reached a thrilling conclusion with the return of a sample from the asteroid Bennu back to Earth. It represents NASA’s first ever asteroid sample return, and it promises to reveal clues about the origin of our solar system, the origin of our planet, and potentially the origin of life itself. The mission has been characterized by remarkable successes at every stage over its 7 year journey in space, which is a testament to the team behind it – led by Principal Investigator and University of Arizona Regents Professor at the Lunar and Planetary Lab, Dante Lauretta. But there’s one last stage of the mission upon which all others depend: the safe delivery of the sample capsule through Earth’s atmosphere, and the gentle deployment of a parachute to ease its landing in the Utah desert.