Your primary source of information for news from and about the University of Arizona.

Aug. 11, 2023

Media advisory: NASA to host news conference on OSIRIS-REx asteroid capsule drop preparations

  • What: University of Arizona Regents Professor of Planetary Science Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, will join other mission members for a NASA news conference on asteroid sample landing and recovery plans. In-person participants can interview mission team members, tour the temporary clean room where the sample capsule will be disassembled, and visit the edge of the capsule's landing area.
  • Where: Department of Defense's Utah Test and Training Range, 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The news conference will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency website.
  • When: No earlier than 2 p.m. (MST) on Aug. 30
  • RSVP: U.S. media interested in attending in person must register online by 2 p.m. (MST) on Aug. 14. NASA will email additional details about the news conference after confirmation of attendance. To participate in the news conference virtually, members of the media must send their full name, affiliation, email address and phone number no later than two hours before the start of the event to Alana Johnson, A copy of NASA's media accreditation policy is available online.

Members of the media are invited to Utah's western desert on Aug. 30 to learn about preparations to receive America's first asteroid sample collected in space. The sample was collected as part of NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu, led by the University of Arizona.

During the week of Aug. 30, the OSIRIS-REx mission team will test its landing and recovery plans with the goal of reducing the time to safely retrieve the sample capsule from the desert floor and transport it to a clean room, protecting the rocks and dust collected from the surface of asteroid Bennu from earthly contaminants.

News conference participants include:

  • Melissa Morris, OSIRIS-REx program executive for NASA Headquarters
  • Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator and UArizona Regents Professor of Planetary Science
  • Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Sandra Freund, OSIRIS-REx program manager for Lockheed Martin
  • Kevin Righter, ORISIS-REx deputy curation lead for NASA's Johnson Space Center

On Sept. 24, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will approach Earth and release its sample return capsule into the atmosphere on a path to land at the Utah Test and Training Range. 

The touchdown will mark the end of a seven-year journey to explore asteroid Bennu, collect a sample from its surface and deliver it to Earth for study. Scientists around the world will study the sample over the coming decades to learn about how our planet and solar system formed, as well as the origin of organics that may have led to life on Earth.

# # #

Media contacts:
Daniel Stolte
University Communications


Karen Fox | Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters
202-358-1275 | 202-358-1501 |

Rani Gran | Rob Garner
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
301-332-6975 | 301-286-5687 |

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2021 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $824 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 71 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually.