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October 19, 2020

US spacecraft sampling asteroid for return

World

October 19, 2020

CAPE CANAVERAL: After almost two years circling an ancient asteroid hundreds of millions of miles away, a NASA spacecraft this week will attempt to descend to the treacherous, boulder-packed surface and snatch a handful of rubble.

The drama unfolds Tuesday as the U.S. takes its first crack at collecting asteroid samples for return to Earth, a feat accomplished so far only by Japan.Brimming with names inspired by Egyptian mythology, the Osiris-Rex mission is looking to bring back at least 2 ounces (60 grams) worth of asteroid Bennu, the biggest otherworldly haul from beyond the moon.The van-sized spacecraft is aiming for the relatively flat middle of a tennis court-sized crater named Nightingale — a spot comparable to a few parking places here on Earth.