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The OSIRIS Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Lauretta (LPL, UA)

OSIRIS will provide the first pristine samples of primitive, carbonaceous asteroidal material for analysis in terrestrial laboratories. Analyses of these samples will produce an unprecedented advancement in our scientific knowledge of the initial stages of planet formation and the origin of life. Led by the director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) at the University of Arizona (UA), Dr. Michael Drake, OSIRIS is a sample-return mission to the carbonaceous (B-spectral-class), near-Earth-object (NEO) (101955) 1999 RQ36. OSIRIS is an acronym that captures the principal scientific goals of this mission: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security. OSIRIS will: 1) perform the first detailed study of a carbonaceous asteroid; 2) study the initial stages of planet formation; 3) identify a source of prebiotic compounds important to the origin of life; 4) characterize the geological and dynamical history of a potentially hazardous asteroid; 5) provide the first link between asteroids, meteorites, and IDPs; 6) pave the way for future human explora-tion of near-Earth space; and 7) increase our ability to predict the orbital evolution of near-Earth asteroids.

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