Young prodigy gives an astronomy class to Don Francisco 0:53

(CNN) -- It's the little spacecraft that was able to do it.

On September 8, 2016, the OSIRIS-REx probe was launched with the ambitious goal of becoming the first NASA mission to collect a sample from a near-Earth asteroid and bring it back to our planet.

Every step of the seven-year journey has been unexpected, filled with challenges and record-breaking moments crying out for Hollywood's attention.

The cargo van-sized spacecraft reached orbit around asteroid Bennu in December 2018, providing detailed images of the spinning spinning top-shaped space rock. Bennu is essentially a pile of debris held together by gravity.

And when OSIRIS-REx approached to collect a sample, the event revealed that the asteroid's surface is like a pit of plastic balls, which could have engulfed the spacecraft had it not quickly backed away.


  • An asteroid sample is about to land on Earth. Here's what we can expect

Now, the saga of the spacecraft that revolved around an asteroid is about to come to an end and will usher in an exciting new chapter of exploration.

Other worlds

In August, a training model of the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule, simulating upcoming recovery operations, was launched from an aircraft. (Keegan Barber/NASA)

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will pass close to Earth this weekend and leave its precious display of Bennu.

The sample capsule will be seen diving through Earth's atmosphere and landing in the Utah desert, with live coverage from NASA starting at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday.

As the capsule parachutes, OSIRIS-REx will move on and embark on a new adventure to explore the asteroid Apophis.

Scientists will take the capsule to a clean room to make sure the sample is safely stored inside. The actual content will be revealed to the public on October 11.

An analysis of rocks and soil could help us better understand the origin of our solar system, as well as the composition of near-Earth asteroids that could one day collide with our planet.


Reanimating dead spiders, figuring out why scientists like to lick stones, and determining the number of hairs in each of a person's nostrils are just some of the research challenges addressed by the 2023 Ig Nobel Prize winners.

The awards, which have no affiliation with Nobel Prizes, aim to "celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative and stimulate people's interest in science, medicine and technology."

A team from Rice University in Texas won the Mechanical Engineering Award for reanimating dead spiders to use as mechanical grasping tools. The spiders were able to grasp objects up to 130% of their own weight.

The prize for each winner is a (now defunct) Zimbabwe $10 billion banknote and a package of Ig Pseudo Cola.

Dig this

An extraordinarily well-preserved leather shoe, found by archaeologists in Dürrnberg (Austria), dates back more than 2,000 years. (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum)

During an excavation in an Austrian village, a boy's shoe was discovered whose laces are still intact after more than 2,000 years.

According to researchers, the leather shoe seen above was probably made in the second century BC. C. in Dürrnberg. It is believed that the artifact remained well preserved thanks to the rock salt, which was extracted in the village as early as the Iron Age.

Researchers are excavating parts of the city to learn about the life of Iron Age miners and have discovered priceless fragments of other items that likely belonged to them.

Moreover, archaeologists have unearthed the oldest known wooden structure along a river bank in Zambia, and the interlocking logs are nearly half a million years old.

Back to the Future

The last living Tasmanian tiger died in 1936, but scientists have now managed to isolate genetic material from a museum specimen.

The marsupial predator, also called thylacine, largely disappeared 2,000 years ago and only lived in the Australian island state of Tasmania before being hunted to extinction.

For the first time, geneticists were able to collect RNA from a thylacine specimen at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm to understand how the species' genes worked.

The genetic material, which provides a more complete biological picture of the animal, could be instrumental in new attempts to recover the Tasmanian tiger from extinction.

Savage Kingdom

The scientists set out to study how life in captivity affected the giant pandas' body clock. (CFOTO/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Giant pandas living in captivity, such as zoos, may be experiencing an unusual movement: "jet lag."

All animals have a circadian clock, that is, an internal biological clock that operates in 24-hour cycles, and is regulated by signals from their environment.

According to new research, jet lag occurs in giant pandas when their current environment in captivity does not match the latitudinal range of the natural environment where they evolved, leading to abnormal behavior and changes in their activity levels.

Giant pandas are an endangered species, so understanding the welfare of bears in captivity is crucial, the researchers said.


Catch up on these fascinating stories:

If you think Mr. Monopoly wears a monocle, you're not alone. It is part of a mysterious false memory phenomenon called the Mandela Effect.

Caribbean box jellyfish don't have a central brain, but they can learn from past experiences just as humans do, according to the latest research.

When an ancient supercontinent broke up 1.300 billion years ago, it created a rare cache of pink diamonds in Western Australia, according to a new study.

A stunning photograph of a stunning arc-shaped discovery near the Andromeda galaxy has won the 2023 Astronomical Photographer of the Year contest.

Like what you've read? Ah, but there's more. Sign up here to receive in your inbox the next edition of Wonder Theory, hosted by CNN Space and Science writers Ashley Strickland and Katie Hunt. They find wonders on planets beyond our solar system and discoveries from the ancient world.

asteroid Bennu