In 2016 NASA will launch a robotic craft towards an asteroid to explore and collect samples. The mission is called OSIRIS-REx , or Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer and will return to Earth in 2023.
This is a critical step in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama to extend our reach beyond low-Earth orbit and explore into deep space,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “It’s robotic missions like these that will pave the way for future human space missions to an asteroid and other deep space destinations.
It will take the spacecraft nearly 4 years to reach asteroid 1999 RQ36, which is approximately 1,900 feet in diameter. Then the spacecraft will map the entire asteroid before selecting a place to extend a robotic arm to collect samples. Hopefully this mission will help us understand the birth of the solar system better. The spacecraft will use LIDAR and OCAMS (Orbital Communications Adapter Monitoring System) among many other electronics and will be built by Lockheed Martin.