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NASA's spacecraft will rendezvous with rare asteroid coming

NASA's spacecraft will rendezvous with rare asteroid coming

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On its way back to Earth with a hefty sample of asteroid Bennu, the team behind NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has big plans for the space rock-chasing spacecraft.

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After the spacecraft drops off the sample next year, it will begin a new mission to study near-Earth asteroid Apophis, earning a new acronym OSIRIS-APEX.

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NASA recently approved $200 million to cover the extended mission, which was welcome news to the University of Arizona-led team.

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University of Arizona planetary science professor Daniella DellaGiustina will become the principal investigator under the APEX mission, but she is not new to the spacecraft.

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She currently serves as deputy principal investigator on the OSIRIS-REx mission and has been part of the program since she was an undergraduate student in 2005 before NASA selected it.

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Instead of traveling through the solar system and collecting a sample as the spacecraft did in 2020, this time, OSIRIS-APEX gets to wait for its subject a little closer to home.

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