LIFTOFF! OSIRIS-REx begins historic mission to asteroid - Tucson News Now

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LIFTOFF! OSIRIS-REx begins historic mission to asteroid

The Atlas V rocket that will deliver the OSIRIS-REx mission to space sits on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. (Source: NASA) The Atlas V rocket that will deliver the OSIRIS-REx mission to space sits on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. (Source: NASA)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The liftoff of the OSIRIS-REx mission on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 8, was watched by space exploration buffs in Tucson and around the world.

The public watched an outdoor showing of the launch on the University of Arizona Mall east of Old Main on a big screen. 

The Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium also showed the launch.

UA Planetary Laboratory and UA Student Geology Club hosted activities leading up to the launch.

Those who couldn't attend the UA event watched online, thanks to NASA TV's live stream of the launch from Cape Canaveral, FL. NASA TV coverage of the mission continues HERE: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is tasked with traveling to Bennu, a 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid. The mission's official website is HERE: http://www.asteroidmission.org/

While in space, OSIRIS-REx will study it for two years, and collect a sample which it will bring back to Earth.

The sample from Bennu will be at its purest form, making it different from studying meteorites that have landed on Earth.

“It should tell us a lot more than we have ever known about how the earth formed, how it evolved and where all the life on earth came from,” said Michael Magee, Planetarium Director at the University of Arizona.

The whole mission is expected to take seven years, with the spacecraft landing back on Earth in 2023.

This is a history-making mission for NASA and the University of Arizona. It is the first time they will travel beyond the moon to bring back a sample.

READ MORE: UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission set to lift off Sept. 8

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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