Seeking Surprises in Comets and Asteroids

On October 20, a van-sized robot circling a distant asteroid will fold back its solar panels, fire its thrusters and descend to the surface of an alien world. NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, which has been studying the asteroid 101955 Bennu for the last two years, will attempt to grab a golf ball's worth of rocky material during its brief touchdown — the largest piece of celestial real estate collected since the Apollo era.

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