09 September 2016 Current Affairs: The US space agency, NASA, on 8 September 2016 launched OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) spacecraft.
The unmanned spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, blasted off onboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
OSIRIS-REx is United States’ first mission to collect samples from an asteroid and return to Earth. The 800 million dollar mission will travel for two years on a journey to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid about the size of a small mountain.
NASA feels that the asteroid may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
Scientists at NASA said OSIRIS-REx's main goal is to gather dirt and debris at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) from the surface of the asteroid and return it to Earth by 2023 for further study.