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UnDisciplined: This asteroid is about to pass dangerously close to Earth

Lockheed Martin
An illustration of OSIRIS-REx, a collection of sensors, imaging devices and sample collectors, on its way to encounter the asteroid named Bennu.

Right now, still a long, long way from our planet, a little spacecraft is on its way home — and we think it's carrying some samples from an asteroid it visited back in the spring of 2021. We'll find out for sure later this year when it passes by Earth and drops off a capsule — but only if everything goes according to plan.

Special thanks to the voices in this story:

Dante Lauretta, the Principal Investigator in the OSIRIS-REx mission
Katie Cardon, Mechanical Engineering Senior Manager at Lockheed Martin
Kimberly Allums, Curation Projects Lead/Task Order Manager
Melissa Rodriguez, Curation and Astro-materials collections lead for NASA's Johnson Space Center
Moreau, Flight Dynamics System Manager
Richard Witherspoon, Ground Recovery Lead at Lockheed Martin
Kimberly Arcand, Data visualization scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>