NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is coming back to Earth. After two years, five months, and eight days, to be exact, of operations on the asteroid Bennu, the spacecraft is coming home with a bounty of asteroid material in its capsule.
But the spacecraft will need to perform another maneuver for a successful departure. There is no straight path back to Earth. Instead, it will be traveling to where Earth will be in the future.
NASA launched OSIRIS-REx in 2016, sending it on it's mission to capture a sample of an asteroid to bring back to Earth. October 20, 2020, the spacecraft descended to the boulder-strewn surface of Bennu into a sight called Nightingale, where the spacecraft's robotic sampling arm collected so many samples it overflowed the collection system.
The spacecraft will go around the sun twice, covering 1.4 billion miles. It will take it over 2.5 years to catch up with earth.
Bennu was chosen as an ideal candidate for closer study because of it's side, composition and proximity to Earth. The asteroid is an artifact of an ancient solar system.
To watch the event live on Monday click here.