NASA has selected the OSIRIS-REx mission as the next New Frontiers mission, and the Planetary Society is excited to announce that it will be involved with many public outreach activities connected with the mission. Michael Drake of the University of Arizona is the mission's principal investigator. After launching in 2016, OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral InterpretationResource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) will approach asteroid 1999 RQ36 in 2019. Once the spacecraft is in sync with the asteroid, it will extend its sample collector and collect over 60 grams of material to return to Earth, making OSIRIS-REx the first U.S. asteroid sample return.
Bill Nye, Executive Director of the Planetary Society said, "The Planetary Society will help get people all over the world involved in a mission to bring back a piece of an asteroid. It's another step in learning how our Earth and all of us came to be. It's exciting business!"
The OSIRIS-REx Concept Study Report lists the following Planetary Society roles:
"The Planetary Society publishes OSIRIS-REx scientist- and engineer-authored
articles; creates radio stories and holds interviews with OSIRS-REx personnel;
collects names to be imprinted on a microchip and flown to RQ36 and back;
runs the contest to name RQ36; holds a Planetfest at the time of asteroid sampling; and features images of RQ36 on the Planetary Society web site
and runs a 'choose your favorite OSIRIS-REx image' contest.”
"OSIRIS-REx is great science, and great for public interest," said
Bruce Betts, the Planetary Society Director of Projects. "The public
is going to be excited to be involved directly with OSIRIS-REx, including
through a contest to name asteroid RQ36 and to have their names flown
to RQ36 and back to Earth."