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Van-sized Spacecraft On Hunt For Clues To Life On Earth

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This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth. Photo: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

A spacecraft the size of a passenger van is orbiting an asteroid nearly 100 million miles away — and will soon snag a sample of dirt from the surface and send it back to Earth. 

OSIRIS-REx launched from Cape Canaveral three years ago. The mission is NASA’s first asteroid sample return. Scientists hope the ancient asteroid will hold signs of early life in the solar system — but since its arrival, the asteroid has hasn’t been exactly what scientists expected. 

90.7’s space reporter Brendan Byrne spoke with the mission’s principle investigator Dante Lauretta about the mission — and the surprises uncovered at the asteroid Bennu. 

Find more details about the OSIRIS-REx mission and other space exploration on the podcast Are We There Yet.

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »