Watch Live: NASA Unveils Asteroid Sample That Could Solve Mystery of Life’s Origin

The OSIRIS-REx mission is safely back on Earth with a load of tantalizing asteroid material. Now, the public will get to see it for the first time.
Watch Live: NASA Unveils Asteroid Sample That Could Solve Mystery of Life’s Origin
Image: NASA handout
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The origin of life on Earth is the ultimate scientific question mark, and on Wednesday humanity will get a little closer to answering it: NASA is set to unveil its hoard of space rocks, collected from asteroid Bennu and delivered to Earth last month, in a live broadcast at 11 a.m.

The OSIRIS-REx mission was launched in 2016 with several goals in mind. The spacecraft was sent to Bennu to collect a sample of regolith—surface rock—and return it to Earth. From this sample, scientists hope to gain a more solid grasp on how organic compounds in space may have led to the eventual emergence of life on Earth. In addition, the mission offered an opportunity to study techniques for asteroid mining and valuable information for planetary defense against potentially hazardous asteroids like Bennu, which has a 1 in 1,750 chance of hitting Earth in the latter part of the 22nd century.

The mission was a complete success and, on September 24, the OSIRIS-REx craft returned to Earth loaded with about a half-pound of regolith samples. But while the public has seen images of the craft on Earth since its return, NASA has not publicly unveiled images of the rocky score. On Wednesday, that’s all about to change. 

NASA will live stream the unveiling from the Johnson Space Center in Houston at 11 a.m. EST. You can watch the event on NASA’s app, the agency’s website, and on its official YouTube channel. During the event, the OSIRIS-REx team is expected to discuss some initial analysis of the sample.