Tuesday, May 21

Space Center Houston Unveils Extraterrestrial Treasure from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission: Bennu Asteroid Sample 

Space Center Houston’s Director of Collections and Curator, Paul Spana installs asteroid “Bennu” at the center’s OSIRIS-REx exhibition on Friday, March 1, 2024. NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft was a successful seven-year-long mission to the near-earth asteroid collecting particles of Bennu that will help tell scientists how the planets were formed and improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. (Photo Courtesy, Aaron Rodriguez).

HOUSTON, TX (March 1, 2024) – Space Center Houston, the official visitor center to NASA Johnson Space Center, is now home to an extraordinary piece of cosmic history – a pristine sample from asteroid Bennu brought back by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. Space Center Houston is one of three esteemed institutions that have a share of this extraordinary asteroid sample, alongside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the University of Arizona. Embodying the essence of Space City’s unique connection to space exploration, this monumental treasure from Bennu takes center stage in a captivating new exhibit in the Center’s main plaza.

As Houstonians welcome Bennu, they are invited to experience the cultural importance of Space Center Houston, where the origins of the universe meet the origins of space exploration. This display is a remarkable addition to Space Center Houston’s extensive array of more than 400 space-related artifacts and educational experiences. The story of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s astonishing journey to reach Bennu to bring back a small sample that may hold the mysteries of our origins is not to be missed. The display reveals a significant milestone in the exploration of our universe and provides an unprecedented opportunity for the public to connect with the story of our solar system.  Space Center Houston invites everyone, from space enthusiasts to curious minds of all ages, to visit and witness this extraordinary gift from the cosmos. The exhibit will be open to the public on March 1, 2024.  

“The mission’s primary objective was to gather valuable insights into the composition and history of the solar system,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of Space Center Houston. “What makes this mission even more remarkable is the unprecedented amount of material that OSIRIS-REx has captured. The spacecraft exceeded all expectations, collecting an abundance of samples that will serve as a scientific treasure for researchers and astronomers. We are extremely grateful to be able to share this piece of cosmic history with the world.” 

The mission of OSIRIS-REx does not end here. The spacecraft embarked on a new mission to explore asteroid Apophis, further expanding our knowledge of the cosmos. 

For more information about Space Center Houston and OSIRIS-REx, please visit our website at www.spacecenter.org/osiris-rex

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Rashena Franklin
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Illiana Luna
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source: spacecenter.org