Space's Deepest Secrets (2016–…): Season 8, Episode 6 - Secrets of the Asteroids - full transcript

Examining asteroids in detail; revealing how space rocks can kick-start life on other planets.

Narrator: NASA's Osiris-Rex is on a mission

to intercept a giant space rock

and crack the mysteries
of a potential killer asteroid.

Oluseyi: If this mission sounds familiar,

it's because it's like something
right out of a Hollywood script.

Narrator: Can Osiris-Rex
help to stop this asteroid

colliding with earth in the 22nd century?

Are asteroids dangerous?
Well, ask a dinosaur.

Narrator: Can it unlock
how asteroids kick-start life

on planets like our own...

Thaller: Turns out the
whole story of our existence,

our origins, is wrapped
up in those space rocks.

Narrator: ...And reveal why they
might be our ticket to other worlds?

They could be the key that enables us

to explore the outer solar system.

Narrator: To find out, we take a ride

with one of NASA's most ambitious missions

to investigate a space rock in
more detail than ever before,

to reveal how asteroids
will rewrite the past

and forge the future of our solar system.



Over one million asteroids
hurtle through space

between Jupiter and Mars.


They are the debris left over

from the violent birth of the solar system

4 1/2 billion years ago.

Many of these ancient space
rocks contain a pristine record

of the conditions that existed
before the earth was born.

Telescope analysis of asteroids

reveals that many of
them carry organic material.


Astronomers think that the
chemistry of this space soil

could unlock the secrets of how life

starts on a planet like earth.

Think about all the
mysteries of how we got here,

how life began to evolve.

Is there any way you
could actually have a sample

of what the early solar system is like?

Well, it turns out we
can... In an asteroid.

Narrator: But asteroids also pose a threat.

NASA has identified 9,000 asteroids

that are large enough to destroy a city

if they were to hit the earth.

Some asteroids are so big

they could wipe out all life on our planet.

Tremblay: Some of them would have
energy associated with their impact

that could exceed the binding
energy of the earth's crust.

That means after the impact,

the earth's crust would
turn into an ocean of magma.

That would cause a global
extinction event at all scales.

Now, I don't want to scare
you, but they are out there.

Narrator: How can astronomers
unlock the secrets of the origins of life

from inside asteroids?

And can they solve the
mystery of why some space rocks

end up on a collision
course with our planet?


Telescopes struggle to see the details

of small, dark asteroids

against the vast blackness of space.

Astronomers must get closer

if they want to reveal the
secrets locked inside asteroids,

as well as assess the
threat that space rocks pose.

So NASA launches Osiris-Rex.

[ Beeping ]

It is the first U.S.-led mission

with the aim to return a
sample of an asteroid to earth.

Engineers equipped the spacecraft

with a suite of special instruments.

These can map the geology of an asteroid

in unprecedented detail...

And then take a sample from
the surface of the space rock

so that Osiris-Rex can bring it to earth

for scientists to study.

This is NASA's most
ambitious asteroid mission.

The stakes are high.

These missions take decades to develop

and hundreds of millions of dollars,

not to mention the hearts and
souls of thousands of people

who have dedicated their
careers to this mission.

Narrator: Building a robust
and well-equipped spacecraft

is just one part of the mission.

Success depends on
selecting the right asteroid

to intercept and study.

Out of the 18,000 asteroids close to earth,

which one should Osiris-Rex go visit?


Telescopes on earth analyze
thousands of space rocks

to identify the perfect candidate.

[ Camera shutter clicks ]

Astronomers narrow
down the list to just one.

The asteroid is called Bennu.

Bennu is a bulging
space rock 500 yards wide.

It orbits the sun on a
similar path to earth.

The asteroid has a
slow and steady rotation.

This makes it easier for
Osiris-Rex to get close.

It is dark in color,

a sign that this asteroid
could contain organic material.

Such material will help scientists

solve why life thrives on earth.

And Bennu is second on NASA's list

of most dangerous space rocks.

This asteroid makes the
perfect target for Osiris-Rex.

NASA had a lot of criteria

when they were trying
to find the perfect asteroid

to send Osiris-Rex to.

Well, it turns out Bennu just
snaps them off one at a time.

[ Beeping ]

Narrator: Osiris-Rex arrives
at Bennu in December 2018.


The first objective for the spacecraft

is to find out just how much of
a threat Bennu poses to earth.

When could this space rock hit our planet?

Plait: An asteroid the
size of Bennu hits the earth

roughly, very roughly every 100,000 years.

Now, that's not like clockwork.

It could be a year from now,

or it might be a million years from now,

but over time, that's
about how often it happens.

We know that Bennu is a danger to us,

but we don't know exactly how dangerous.

And that's why we have
the Osiris-Rex mission...

To go there and figure it out.

Narrator: A clue to unlock
when Bennu could hit earth

lies in changes to the
asteroid's trajectory

that happen each time
it swings by our planet.


Bennu laps earth every 6 years.

Each time, there's a chance

it will pass through a
gravitational keyhole.

This is a narrow corridor
where earth's gravity

pulls the asteroid onto
a dangerous trajectory.


Astronomers believe that Bennu

could pass through a gravitational keyhole

when it dives between
earth and the moon in 2135.

If it does, it means there's
then a 1-in-2,700 chance

that Bennu will collide
with earth 50 years later.

1 in 2,700 might sound
like really low odds,

but when you're talking about an impact

that could destroy a city,

it's worryingly high.

Narrator: Astronomers need to know for sure

if Bennu will pass through
a gravitational keyhole

and end up on a collision
course with our planet.


But it's difficult for astronomers

to predict the future path

that an asteroid will take through space.

Telescope observations
reveal that Bennu moves

around 300 yards closer
to the sun with every orbit.

What is the mysterious
force that drives Bennu

towards this center of the solar system?


And can it help scientists calculate

if Bennu will end up on a
collision course with earth?



[ Beeping ]

Narrator: Osiris-Rex is on a mission

to return a sample from asteroid Bennu.


This space rock could collide
with earth in the 22nd century

after an epic journey
from the asteroid belt.


What is the mysterious
force that pushes Bennu

ever closer to the center
of the solar system?


Astronomers believe
that the heat from the sun

unlocks the mystery.


Bennu makes one full
rotation every 4.3 hours

as it flies through space.

Sunlight warms the surface of the asteroid.

As the heated rocks
rotate away from the sun

towards Bennu's dark side,

they radiate their heat into space

on the asteroid's leading edge.

This gives the asteroid
a tiny push backwards.

Astronomers call this
process the Yarkovsky effect.

Like a low intensity
thruster, it slows down Bennu

and allows the sun to pull
it closer with every orbit.

The Yarkovsky effect is very
small in any given moment,

but over a large amount of time,

it could actually have a big effect.

It's already moved Bennu
from the asteroid belt

inward toward the earth.

[ Beeping ]

Narrator: Infrared cameras
on board Osiris-Rex

measure how quickly the surface of Bennu

heats up and cools down.

This data will help astronomers
calculate the influence

that the Yarkovsky effect has
on Bennu's orbit around the sun.


This calculation could
predict precisely if and when

Bennu will pass through a
deadly gravitational keyhole.

Oluseyi: Is it changing in
such a way that it moves away

from one of these keyholes,

or is it going to pass through a keyhole,

moving it in a direction of a
collision course with earth?

Narrator: Rogue asteroids

have the potential to devastate our planet.

Osiris-Rex will help
astronomers accurately assess

the threat that Bennu
poses to life on earth.

[ Whirring ]

But what secrets about the origins of life

are buried inside this space rock?


Scientists think that Bennu contains

ancient organic material

that could help solve the mystery.

If we look at Bennu, it's primordial,

it's pure, it's untouched,
it's been out there by itself,

isolated from pretty much
everything but sunlight.

This material could
be older than the earth.

It probably is.

So if we want to understand
how our solar system formed,

this is where we need to go.

Narrator: Osiris-Rex photographs
its first clue in January 2019.

[ Camera shutter clicks ]

This image shows the surface
of Bennu ejecting particles.

Of all the amazing science and images

that have come back
from the Osiris-Rex mission,

the absolute coolest one to me

is that Bennu is spitting rocks into space.

Little rocks, sometimes pebbles,
sometimes a little bit bigger,

are literally shooting out
of the asteroid into space.

Narrator: What is
blasting rocks from Bennu?


One theory is that as Bennu
rotates into the sunlight,

the rocks on the surface heat up.

This can stress them
so much that they crack...

And throw asteroid fragments into space

or into orbit around Bennu.

Another theory is that
sunlight heats up a material

trapped in the rock.

This vaporizes and
builds up so much pressure

that it can break bits off
Bennu and fling them into space.

What is the mysterious
material that produces this vapor?

[ Beeping ]

Osiris-Rex uses special cameras

to analyze the chemical
composition of Bennu's rocks.

The cameras discover that
many of the minerals inside Bennu

are hydrated.

This means that the
molecules of these minerals

are chemically combined
with molecules of water.


Astronomers believe that this is evidence

that Bennu was once
part of a larger asteroid

that contained a reservoir of liquid water.


Plait: For a long time, it was
thought that asteroids were very dry...

They didn't have much water on them.

Well, in recent years, we've
learned that's not the case.

They are, in fact, loaded with water.

Narrator: Do these hydrated
minerals unlock how earth's vast oceans

formed billions of years ago?

And is it possible that
asteroids like Bennu

even brought the building
blocks of life to our planet?



Narrator: NASA's Osiris-Rex is on a mission

to unlock the secrets
of the asteroid Bennu.

The spacecraft carries
a suite of instruments

that photograph, scan, and analyze Bennu

in more detail than any asteroid before it.

Osiris-Rex finds evidence

that Bennu was once part of a
larger body loaded with water.


Scientists think this
could unlock the answer

to a crucial question about our world.

How does life start on a planet like earth?


Tremblay: Of all of the
bodies in the solar system,

including moons and planets,

earth is the odd one out.

It is the only body with
liquid water on its surface.

Narrator: Water is
crucial for organic life.

The liquid mixes lifeless chemicals

into biological systems.

Water covers 70% of
the earth's surface today.

But this hasn't always been the case.


4.5 billion years ago,

rocky planets like earth
are hot, hellish worlds.

One theory is that a crystalline
material called Ringwoodite

locked inside the earth's crust

releases vast amounts of liquid water.

But many scientists think
that this internal water source

will boil away in the super-hot conditions

of the early solar system.

Anything very easy to
evaporate like water vapor

would have simply gone up
and been blown away into space.

So how did this water come
to the surface of the earth?

It couldn't have started here,

so something must have brought it.

Narrator: Billions of years ago,

a cooler region of the solar system

exists around 400 million
miles away from the sun.

Here, it is possible
for water to exist as ice.

It gets colder as you
move away from the sun.

So there's a region in
our outer solar system

that is cold enough to allow
for the existence of water ice.

We think that asteroids that
form out in this cold region

of the solar system can lock up this ice

and bring it inwards toward
the inner solar system.

And that might have been how
a dry earth received its water.

Narrator: Asteroids laden with
ice bombard the young earth.

Over time, this barrage
delivers enough water

to turn our world blue.


The hydrated minerals inside
Bennu could be evidence

that asteroids bring water
to earth billions of years ago.


But is it also possible

that they bring the chemicals
needed to create life itself?

Plait: A big question about asteroids

is if they bring water from space to earth,

could they have more complex
chemistry like amino acids,

materials that they could
have brought to earth

and seeded it here
so that life could begin?

Narrator: NASA's new horizons
spacecraft uncovers a clue

in the farthest reaches
of the solar system.

The probe takes this
photograph of Pluto in 2015.

It shows a strange red tar

covering the surface of the dwarf planet.

Analysis reveals that
this tar, called Thulin,

is made from a mixture of
complex organic chemistry.

It is possible that this chemistry

could contain the building blocks of life.

How can asteroids bring it

from the frozen depths of space to earth?

A clue lies

in how carbon-rich
asteroids, like Bennu, form.


4.5 billion years ago,

our sun ignites within
a swirling cloud of gas

and interstellar dust.


Inside the cloud,

solar radiation breaks up simple chemicals,

and they form more
complex organic molecules.


Carbon-rich asteroids

are loosely bound piles
of ancient dust and rocks

full of these organic molecules.


It's possible that such asteroids

bring this chemical cargo to earth

and help kick-start life on our planet.

Plait: If Bennu has the
basic ingredients you need

for organic chemistry,

does that mean that
organic chemicals are there?

Well, we don't know yet.

[ Beeping ]

Narrator: The only way to find out

is for Osiris Rex to return
a sample from Bennu.


Scientists can then
test this sample to reveal

if asteroids like Bennu

really do hold the building blocks of life.

[ Whirring ]

But from where on Bennu
should Osiris Rex take a sample?

Bennu's surface area
measures 8.4 million square feet.

How can Osiris Rex make
sure that it grabs a sample

from an area that is
rich in organic material?

[ Beeping ]

The spacecraft carries
the solution on board.

Three special cameras

precisely map the chemical
composition of Bennu.

This data pinpoints the
richest potential sample sites.


These sites are scattered
across the surface of the asteroid.

Any one of them could contain evidence

of the building blocks of life.

There's going to be this wonderful moment

when we actually open
up the Osiris Rex canister,

and inside are a couple kilograms

of the most precious stuff on earth,

more precious than gold or platinum.

You actually have a chemical
sample of the origins of life.


Narrator: The next challenge for Osiris Rex

is to get close enough to Bennu

so that it can grab a
sample from the asteroid.


How can the spacecraft
avoid getting smashed to pieces

as it sidles up to a giant
tumbling space rock?

And how can it take a
sample in near-zero gravity

without the dust floating away into space?


[ Beeping ]

Narrator: NASA's Osiris
Rex spacecraft is on a mission

to grab a sample from the asteroid Bennu...

...200 million miles away from earth.


The organic material inside the sample

could reveal how life
started on our planet.

Thaller: Think about all the mysteries,

about how life got to
earth in the first place,

how life evolved over time.

All of that is actually locked
up inside the asteroids.

These space rocks turn out
to be invaluable treasures.

Narrator: But scooping up rock

from an asteroid that tumbles through space

at 60,000 miles per hour

is a big challenge.

One wrong move and the $800 million mission

could come to a crashing end.

How can Osiris Rex complete its objective

and avoid being wiped out in the process?

NASA engineers believe the solution lies

in drawing a pinpoint-accurate map

of Bennu's surface.


This chart will help astronomers
identify the safest place

for Osiris Rex to grab a sample from.

Telescopes on earth are
too far away from Bennu

to study the surface
of the asteroid in detail.


They see it as a
featureless Boulder in space.

We did have radar
measurements of its shape,

we had some understanding
of how fast it was rotating,

but we didn't know how big the particles

would be on the surface

or actually what the
terrain would be like at all.

Narrator: Osiris Rex must map

the contours of the
asteroid in three dimensions

to find a safe sample site.

The spacecraft carries
special scanning technology

called Lidar.

It builds up the most detailed picture

of any asteroid in space.

A sensor shoots laser
beams at the surface of Bennu.

The lasers map the
topography of the asteroid

with incredible precision.

When Bennu came into
view, I had this moment of awe.

I had seen this fuzzy
shape on the radar map,

and yet now here it was crystal clear.

You can see every little
pebble on the surface.

When I see an image like
Osiris Rex returned from Bennu,

I realize that this is
no longer just an idea.

This is a place. This is somewhere.

Narrator: The high resolution
maps reveal a big surprise.

Instead of it being like
a big monolithic rock,

just a big chunk of rock,

it actually has an
incredibly rugged surface.

It is covered in pebbles and
boulders and rocks everywhere.


Narrator: Why is Bennu's surface so rocky?

Astronomers believe the answer
lies in the asteroid's Genesis.


A small protoplanet over 60 miles wide

shatters in a cataclysmic collision

around 1 billion years ago.

Gravity brings together some
of the loose, jagged material

to form the body that will become Bennu.


More collisions break its rocks
into smaller and smaller pieces.

Bennu is by now so fragile

that the gravitational tug from
planets can turn it inside out.

This brings more loose,
large rocks to the surface

to shape Bennu into the asteroid
that Osiris Rex sees today.

Bennu is what we call
a rubble pile asteroid.

These are almost literally bags of rocks.

They're just a jumble
of rocks held together

by their own gravity.

Narrator: The large, jagged rocks

on the surface of this rubble pile

threaten to jeopardize
the $800 million mission.

A brush with one of these boulders

could smash Osiris Rex into the dirt.

We were going to navigate
a delicate little spacecraft

down near the surface and
suck up some of the dust.

We didn't see right off the bat

a place where that might even be possible.

[ Beeping ]

Narrator: Osiris Rex must
sample an area of Bennu

that contains organic material.

Only this kind of material can
help scientists back on earth

unlock whether asteroids brought
the seeds of life to our planet.


How can Osiris Rex
decode the surface of Bennu

to identify the richest...
And safest... site to sample?


NASA scientists overlay
the 3-d Lidar map of Bennu

onto the areas with the richest
deposits of organic material.

They select a spot that gives
Osiris Rex the best chance

to sample the asteroid safely.

They call the site nightingale.

The good thing about nightingale on Bennu

as a sample return site

is that it looks like

it has a lot of organic chemicals in it.

It's near the north pole,
which makes it easier to land.

Also, it doesn't receive as much sunlight.

It doesn't get heated as much,

so it hasn't affected the chemistry there.

And the site looks relatively young,

so we're getting fairly pristine
samples from it, as well.

Narrator: But nightingale
does have one big danger...

A 30-foot tall rock that borders
the edge of the sample site.

The Osiris Rex team name it mount doom.

And the site next to this
mega rock is a tight squeeze.

For Osiris Rex to land in the
nightingale crater on Bennu

is like hitting this
tiny, cosmic bull's-eye.

So the spacecraft is about the
size of a large passenger bus,

but the area that it needs
to target for its touchdown

is only about 6 parking spaces across.

Narrator: And there's another challenge...

The spacecraft will be more
than 180 million miles from earth

when it grabs a sample.

This means that piloting instructions

from mission control

take over 18 minutes to reach Osiris Rex.


How can Osiris Rex avoid
crashing into this mega Boulder

when it swoops to take a sample?

And how can the spacecraft
scoop up rocks in zero gravity

without them floating away?



Narrator: NASA's spacecraft
Osiris Rex is on a mission

to bring rocks from
asteroid Bennu to earth.

This sample could solve the mystery

of how life starts on our
planet billions of years ago.

[ Beeping ]

One wrong move

and the spacecraft could
smash into the asteroid.

If the spacecraft has to
make a split-second decision

in order to remain safe,

then taking minutes to
send signals back and forth

just isn't an option.

The spacecraft needs to be
able to autonomously abort

if necessary.

Narrator: The solution is to
let Osiris Rex think for itself.


The nightingale sample site
is near Bennu's north pole,

and it's a moving target.


The safe zone is about
the size of 6 parking spaces,

surrounded by large rocks and mount doom.

On approach, Osiris Rex
will compare live images

to an on board database

to constantly check its position.

If the spacecraft finds itself off-target,

it can automatically abort

and try again another time.

Sophisticated image
recognition allows Osiris Rex

to guide itself safely
to the surface of Bennu.

But the spacecraft must
overcome another big challenge

to successfully grab a sample.

Bennu is a loosely bound
ball of dust and rock,

floating in space.

How can the spacecraft take a
sample from the asteroid quickly

in close to zero gravity?


Osiris Rex is going to have to deal

with Bennu's very low gravity.

That means it can't just go there and land

and start scooping up asteroid material.

As soon as your scoop hits the asteroid,

your spacecraft is
going to fly off into space.

Narrator: Engineers equip Osiris
Rex with an ingenious solution.

It's called the touch-and-go
sample acquisition mechanism,

or TAGSAM for short.

The spacecraft extends a
10-foot long robotic arm...

...before it descends
towards the surface of Bennu.

The end of the arm contacts the asteroid.

A blast of nitrogen stirs
up the rubble and dust,

this material collects inside a
specially designed chamber.

Osiris Rex then stows the sample,

ready to return to earth.

All we need is to make
contact with the surface,

quickly collect that sample,
and then get back toward earth.

That's all we want.

Narrator: Using this touch-and-go system,

Osiris Rex will return to earth

with the largest sample of space rocks

since the Apollo missions.


The sample from Bennu promises to unlock

how life begins on earth
billions of years ago.

And many scientists believe

that asteroids present another opportunity.

Osiris Rex could also
be a stepping stone for us

to harness the mineral wealth of asteroids.


A clue to how lies 110
million miles away from earth.

The asteroid belt is a ring of space rocks

around the sun, beyond the orbit of Mars.

And this is psyche.

The mega asteroid
measures 140 miles across.

NASA aims to send a probe here for 2026.

Psyche is not a rubble pile like Bennu.

This space rock contains untold riches,

and through a slice of luck,

they are just waiting
for us to pick them up.


As a rocky planet, like earth, forms,

heavy metals collect
in its hot liquid core.


Miners can only dig down into the crust,

where heavy metals
are scattered in the rocks

and yields are low.

Psyche is the surviving
core of a protoplanet.

It is made almost entirely of metal.


Mining an asteroid like this
could generate a huge supply

of metals that are rare on earth.

[ Saw buzzes ]

Osiris Rex travels millions of miles

to touch a space rock.

This NASA mission paves the way

for a new generation of spacecraft

that could make asteroid mining a reality.

I've heard that the
world's first trillionaire

will be the first person
to mine an asteroid.

The potential is clearly huge.

Narrator: Asteroids could unlock
more than just a new gold rush.

The sample that Osiris
Rex brings back to earth

could contain the solution
to the biggest challenge

we face in space exploration...

How do we power spacecraft

that carry astronauts beyond the moon?


Spacecraft need a lot of
fuel to escape earth's gravity.

A SpaceX falcon 9 rocket

burns over 500 tons of propellant

to send astronauts into low earth orbit.

450 tons of that is liquid oxygen.

Fuel weighs a lot,

and it takes a lot of fuel

to get off the ground and into space.

So by the time you get
there, you don't have much left.

Narrator: Refueling in space could
solve how we power rockets to Mars

and beyond.

Mining asteroids for fuel
means that we could collect

or even manufacture
fuel very close to the earth

and then use that as a launching
point for distant explorations.

Narrator: Osiris Rex will return
its sample to earth in 2023.

Locked inside could be evidence

that carbon-rich asteroids contain water.

Where there's water,
scientists can make rocket fuel.

Plait: You can break that
water up into its individual atoms

of hydrogen and oxygen.

This becomes rocket fuel

just having liquid
hydrogen and liquid oxygen

and combining them, igniting them,

that gives you a lot of thrust.

That's what a rocket needs.

Narrator: How can we mine
this water from asteroids?

And what will it mean for
the future of space travel?



Narrator: Hydrogen and oxygen
mined from water-rich asteroids

could refuel rockets in space.

How can we extract this resource

from space rocks millions of miles away?

And what new frontiers
does it promise to unlock?


NASA is funding the development of missions

that promise to unlock
the potential of asteroids.

Mini bee will mine water
from an artificial space rock

to show how it is possible
to release the liquid

inside larger asteroids.


Oluseyi: This stuff
isn't just science fiction.

It's real.

Asteroid mining is here.

NASA's even planning a
concept feasibility mission

at this very moment.

Narrator: Concepts like mini bee

harness the energy of the
sun to unlock the fuel we need

to explore the solar system.

And this is how a
scaled-up version could work.

A mining station pulls up
alongside a water-rich asteroid.

A giant hood latches on to the space rock

and forms a gas-tight seal.

A reflector collects sunlight

and focuses it onto the asteroid.

The rock heats up,

and the water trapped inside vaporizes.

The station stores the
water in super-sized tanks.


And an on board processing plant

splits the water into oxygen and hydrogen,

ready to refuel spacecraft.

Oluseyi: Asteroid mining is going
to be a complete game changer,

because now people are
going to be making money.

That means that access to
space is going to get cheaper,

is going to get safer,

and space travel for the average
citizen now becomes a reality.

We've already seen it
happen with air travel.

Now it's going to happen with space travel.

Narrator: Space tankers will
move the fuel closer to earth.

Refueling stations near to our planet

will springboard our
exploration of the solar system.


Astronauts on board a
next-generation rocket

blast off from earth for
a deep space mission.

Their rocket carries just enough fuel

to break out of low earth orbit.

It then docks with a fuel
depot in orbit around the moon.

Here, it loads up with hydrogen and oxygen

before continuing its journey
across interplanetary space.

Stations like this will
dramatically cut the cost

of deep space exploration

and open up travel to Mars and beyond.

Imagine how much easier
it's going to be to explore space

if you don't have to bring
all of these things with you.

You just use up what you have,

go to a nearest asteroid weigh station.

You don't have to come
back to earth to refuel.

Narrator: NASA has
launched just nine missions

to the outer solar system since the 1970s.

Metals and fuel mined from
asteroids make it possible

to launch a whole fleet of missions

to Jupiter, Saturn, and beyond.


There are so many treasures
that are beckoning us

in the outer solar system.

There may even be worlds
that support life out there.

It would be wonderful to have

just mission after
mission headed out there.

There may come a day
in a few centuries from now

when we truly are a
space-faring civilization.

[ Beeping ]

Narrator: Osiris Rex is one of
NASA's most ambitious ever missions.

The sample that the
spacecraft returns from Bennu

promises to unlock the mystery

of how life started on our planet.

The true treasure lying up there on Bennu

is a look into the origin of life itself.

They are rich with the
history of how life got started.

Narrator: The data that Osiris Rex gathers

will help scientists combat the threat

that space rocks pose to earth.

And this pioneering mission
helps to lay the foundations

for the next stage of
our exploration of space.

It's easy to think of asteroids
as a threat, and they are,

but we can learn how
to prevent that threat.

And they could literally be the key

to our future of space exploration.

Narrator: Osiris Rex promises
to unlock the mysteries of our past

and help us realize our
space-traveling future.