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Oct. 14, 2020

Media Availability and Livestream Information for OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Collection

  • What: NASA will broadcast University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample collection activities, involving discussion from mission leaders. Mission team members will be available for in-person interviews with media after the event.
  • When:
    • NASA live broadcast starts at 2 p.m. (PT) on Oct. 20.
    • In-person media availability with mission members begins at 3:30 p.m. (PT) on Oct. 20.
  • Where:
    • The live broadcast will be available at
    • The in-person media availability will take place outside the Drake Building, 1415 N. 6th Ave. Parking for media will be available in front, with overflow parking along the sides of the building. Media who wish to attend the in-person media availability must RSVP to
  • Media Availability Participants:
    • Robert C. Robbins, UArizona president
    • Betsy Cantwell, UArizona senior vice president for research and innovation
    • Karl Harshman, OSIRIS-REx Science Processing and Operations Center lead
    • Anjani Polit, OSIRIS-REx science planning team senior systems engineer
    • Sara Knutson, OSIRIS-REx science operations lead engineer
    • Carl Hergenrother, OSIRIS-REx lead astronomer
  • Electronic Press Kit:

TUCSON, Ariz. – NASA's University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission will make its first attempt at collecting a sample from the asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 3:12 p.m. (PT).

NASA will provide live coverage of the Touch-and-Go, or TAG, event from Lockheed Martin Space near Denver starting at 2 p.m. (PT). Hosted by Dante Lauretta, the mission's principal investigator and UArizona professor of lunar and planetary sciences, and Michelle Thaller, science communicator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the broadcast will cover milestones in the 90 minutes leading up to TAG and spacecraft back-away. It will include perspectives from team members and science leaders about the mission's challenges and accomplishments.

In addition, four simultaneous, simulated views of the spacecraft will provide live confirmation of every step of the event, starting at 10:25 a.m. (PT) on the OSIRIS-REx website.

After the live broadcast ends, mission team members and university leadership will be available for media interviews. Because of COVID-19 precautions and limited parking at the Drake Building, please RSVP for the in-person media event by emailing

Some of the key moments of the day include:

  • At 2:50 p.m., the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will perform its Checkpoint maneuver. The spacecraft will adjust its position and speed to begin descending steeply toward the surface.
  • At 3:01 p.m., it will execute the Matchpoint maneuver. The spacecraft will slow its descent and target a path to match the asteroid's rotation.
  • At 3:12 p.m., the spacecraft will attempt the Touch-And-Go, or TAG, maneuver, in which the spacecraft will descend to the surface, touch down for about 10 seconds and fire one of its three pressurized nitrogen bottles. The gas will agitate and lift Bennu's surface material, which will then be caught in the spacecraft's collector head. The spacecraft will then fire its thrusters to navigate safely away from the asteroid.

The primary sample collection site, Nightingale, is the safest and most scientifically valuable area from which to collect a sample, according to the mission science team. The spacecraft's brief TAG will be like parking a shuttle van in an area as wide as three parking spaces.

Because of the 18.5-minute communication delay between mission control and Bennu, the spacecraft will be operating on autopilot.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is about the size of a 15-passenger van, is currently orbiting the asteroid Bennu, 200 million miles from Earth. Bennu contains material from the early solar system and may also contain the molecular precursors to life and Earth's oceans. The asteroid is about as tall as the Empire State Building and could potentially threaten Earth late in the next century, with a 1‐in‐2,700 chance of impacting our planet during one of its close approaches. OSIRIS-REx is now ready to take a sample of this ancient relic of our solar system and bring its stories and secrets home to Earth.

Virtual News Conferences Before and After TAG

A series of virtual news conferences will take place the day before, day of and day after the TAG event, including one featuring UArizona mission member Heather Enos:

Monday, Oct. 19, 12 p.m. (PT)
OSIRIS-REx Science and Engineering televised briefing

Participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, NASA's Science Mission Directorate
  • Lori Glaze, NASA Planetary Science Division director
  • Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, University of Arizona
  • Kenneth Getzandanner, OSIRIS-REx flight dynamics manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Beth Buck, OSIRIS-REx mission operations program manager, Lockheed Martin

For phone bridge information, media should contact Lonnie Shekhtman at no later than 10 a.m. (PT) on Oct. 19.

Information on additional news conferences can be found at:

For the latest news on the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit

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Media Contacts:
Erin Morton
OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Mikayla Mace
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 40 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 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 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 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.