Asteroid rubble heading to earth for study

By Andy Roesgen

ILLINOIS, US (AA) – A NASA spacecraft is now rocketing home with a space payload, the likes of which have not arrived on earth in a generation.

The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex is carrying what the lead scientist describes as about pound of rubble from an asteroid, nearly 200 million miles from earth.

NASA tweeted on Monday that the spacecraft is "headed home with a souvenir of rocks and dusts from a 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid!"

The Osiris-Rex reached the carbon-rich rock in 2018, and spent two years flying near and around it. Osiris-Rex started collecting samples from the asteroid surface last fall.

Osiris-Rex will take about two years to return to earth.

Presumably, NASA will do a better job of tracking its payload than the rocks which came back with the Apollo missions to the moon between 1969 and 1972. Of the 842 pounds of debris collected on the moon, plenty of samples were doled out as gifts to other nations. Many wound up lost, stolen, unaccounted for or forged.