Oct. 9, 2023

NASA to host telecon following Oct. 11 sample science reveal; UArizona experts available for reaction

  • What: NASA will host a media teleconference following the Oct. 11 sample science reveal broadcast and University of Arizona experts will be available in Tucson for interviews.
  • When: On Wednesday, Oct. 11, NASA's telecon will begin at 11:30 a.m. Arizona time (1:30 p.m. CDT/2:30 p.m. EDT). UArizona experts will be available Wednesday and throughout the week on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Where: Join NASA's telecon by phone. Audio of the teleconference will stream live at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv. UArizona experts will be available by Zoom, phone or in person, depending on availability.
  • RSVP:
    • NASA telecon: Contact the NASA Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 or jsccommu@mail.nasa.gov. Media interested in participating in the call must request participation no later than two hours prior to the start time and are asked to dial in 15 minutes early.
    • Interview: Email media_requests@list.arizona.edu

TUCSON, Ariz. – Following a public unveiling of the United States' first asteroid sample on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 8 a.m. Arizona time (10 a.m. CDT/11 a.m. EDT), NASA will host a media teleconference with experts from the agency and mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a Regents Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft capped its seven-year mission on Sunday, Sept. 24, with the delivery of a pristine sample of surface material from asteroid Bennu.

The Oct. 11 unveiling event at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will air live on NASA TV, the NASA app and the agency's website. In Tucson, mission science team members will be available for media interviews, either in person or virtually.

Mission scientists available for interviews include:

  • Thomas Zega, a Lunar and Planetary Laboratory professor, director of the Kuiper Materials Imaging & Characterization Facility and lead scientist for the Mineralogy and Petrology Working Group on OSIRIS-REx
  • Jessica Barnes, a Lunar and Planetary Laboratory assistant professor and lead scientist for the Sample Elements and Isotopes Analysis Working Group on OSIRIS-REx
  • Pierre Haenecour, a Lunar and Planetary Laboratory assistant professor and lead scientist for the Sample Analysis Data Archiving Working Group on OSIRIS-REx

NASA built a new OSIRIS-REx Sample Curation Laboratory at Johnson Space Center, where curators from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science team will manage distribution of samples to scientists around the world over the coming years, including those from UArizona.

The UArizona-led science team will receive 25% of the sample, some of which will be studied in the university's Kuiper-Arizona Laboratory for Astromaterials Analysis. A portion of the sample will also be reserved for research decades from now, utilizing technologies that will improve over the years.

Scientists seek to learn more about how our planet and solar system formed, as well as the origin of organics that may have led to life on Earth. The sample can also reveal more about the characteristics of potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids like Bennu, which can inform planetary defense strategies.

NASA Johnson houses the world's largest collection of astromaterials from the solar system under one roof, including samples from asteroids, comets, Mars, the moon, sun and dust from other stars. Scientists use world-class laboratories to perform research on planetary materials and the space environment to investigate the origin and evolution of our solar system and beyond.

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Media contacts:
Karen Fox | Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1257 | 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov | alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

Shaneequa Vereen
NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston


University of Arizona Communications


The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 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.