Credit: NASA Goddard

About the above's video: Rotating asteroids have a tough time sticking to their orbits. Their surfaces heat up during the day and cool down at night, giving off radiation that can act as a sort of mini-thruster. This force, called the Yarkovsky effect, can cause rotating asteroids to drift widely over time, making it hard for scientists to predict their long-term risk to Earth.

OSIRIS-REx mission to Asteroid Bennu (1999 RG36)

The Spacecraft has been launched on September 8, 2016. As planned, it will reach its asteroid-target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.
Then, the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will travel to a near-Earth asteroid Bennu, and bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth. The mission will help scientists to know how planets are formed and how life began as well as improving the understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.                                                                                    Credit: NASA FY 2018 President's Budget Summary

After a Earth Flyby in September 2017, the spacecraft took the route for its primary destination, Asteroid Bennu, formerly 1999 RQ36. Its arrival is scheduled for August 2018

OSIRIS-REx Environmental Testing at the Lockheed Martin facility

Bennu is a B-type asteroid with a ~500 m-diameter. It complete an orbit around the Sun every 436.604 days (1.2 years) and every 6 years comes very close to Earth, within 0.002 AU. These close encounters give Bennu a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd century. Its size, primitive composition, and potential hazard orbit to Earth make it one of the most fascinating and accessible NEOs, and the ideal OSIRIS-REx target asteroid.
This mission will also measure the Yarkovsky effect on a potentially hazardous asteroid and measure the asteroid properties that contribute to this effect. The Yarkovsky effect is a small force on an asteroid caused by the Sun, as the asteroid absorbs sunlight and re-emits that energy as heat. The small force adds up over time, but it is uneven due to an asteroid’s shape, wobble, surface composition, and rotation. For scientists to predict an Earth-approaching asteroid’s path, they must understand how the effect will change its orbit. By describing the integrated global properties of a primitive carbonaceous asteroid, this mission will allow for direct comparison with ground- based telescopic data of the entire asteroid population.

By describing the integrated global properties of a primitive carbonaceous asteroid, this mission will allow for direct comparison with ground- based telescopic data of the entire asteroid population.

OSIRIS-REx launched on September 8, 2016 and will fly by the Earth on September 22, 2017. After almost two years in space, OSIRIS-REx will approach Bennu, arriving close enough to begin observations in August 2018. The mission will study the asteroid for about one year, globally mapping the surface from distances of about three miles to less than half a mile. The spacecraft cameras and instruments will photograph the asteroid and measure its surface topography, composition, and thermal emissions. Radio science will provide mass and gravity field maps. This information will help the mission team select the most promising location to collect a sample of pristine asteroid material.
In 2020, the spacecraft will descend to the surface of the asteroid, and gently contact the surface, collecting a sample, before backing away. The spacecraft will remain near the asteroid for almost another two years before beginning its return to Earth. To deliver the sample to Earth, OSIRIS-REx has a capsule similar to the one that returned the sample of Comet 81P/Wild on the Stardust spacecraft. The capsule with its pristine sample from Bennu will land at the Utah Test and Training Range on September 24, 2023. NASA will transport the capsule containing the sample to JSC for processing, analysis, and curation at a dedicated research facility. JSC will make subsamples available for research to the worldwide science community.
This video of 6-minute is about the NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, the Asteroid Bennu, and the formation of our solar system. Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years, the asteroid has had a tough life in a rough neighborhood - the early solar system. Bennu's Journey shows what is known and what remains mysterious about its evolution and the other planets. By retrieving a sample of its surface, OSIRIS-REx will teach us more about the raw ingredients of the solar system and our own origins.



Launching in September 2016, the OSIRIS-REx mission plans to return a sample of asteroid Bennu to Earth in 2023, that will permit to scientists studying pristine material left over from the early solar system. Dante Lauretta, Principal Investigator for OSIRIS-REx, provides an overview of this asteroid sample return mission. 
Build by Lockheed Martin, the Spacecraft Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, OSIRIS-REx, has been launched in 2016. In 2023, it will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth.

Credit: Our Universe Visualized

University of Arizona, leading by Michael Drake, director of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, has been selected by NASA to lead a sample-return mission to an asteroid, and for NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. manage the mission.
In its prime mission, the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx will also investigate an object potentially hazardous to humanity, the asteroid 1999 RQ36 who has a one-in-1,800 chance of impacting the Earth in the year 2182. In that phase, the vehicle will spend more than a year exploring it before acquiring samples, providing geologic context essential to expanding our understanding of the asteroid-comet continuum. The mission will provide near-live coverage of 1999 RQ36 operations and sample return to Earth.
Credit: University of Arizona source:
Follow the mission at: 


The Explorers Program is the oldest continuous NASA program designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the Science Mission Directorate’s Astrophysics and Heliophysics programs. Since the Explorer 1 launch in 1958, which discovered Earth’s radiation belts, the Explorers Program has launched more than 90 missions, including the Uhuru and Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) missions that led to Nobel Prizes for their investigators.
The program is managed by Goddard for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system, and the universe.
The New Frontiers program explores our solar system with medium-class spacecraft missions. Within the New Frontiers program, possible mission destinations and the science goals for each competitive opportunity are limited to specific science targets announced for the competition.
The program is currently comprised of three missions in operations: New Horizons, Juno, and OSIRIS-REx.

Voyager 1
. A Reconnaissance class probe, as Voyager spacecraft (at right), have a mass between 0.2 and 0.8 tons and intend for a flyby encounter with limited science return.
. An Exploration class probe, as Galileo spacecraft, have a mass of between 0.75 and 1.5 tons and usually include an atmospheric re-entry probe with the main orbiter.
. A Laboratory class probe, as the Mars Viking spacecraft have a mass typically greater than 1.5 tons and include a orbiter and a robotic lander.

The ex-former administrator Daniel Goldin initiated the Discovery Program when he was in charge of NASA. Under this program, the Agency undertook the NEAR Shoemaker mission to study the asteroid 433 Eros, the Mars Pathfinder mission to deploy a rover, the Deep Impact mission that sent an impactor into a comet, the Lunar Prospector mission to study the mineralogy of the Moon and the Stardust mission to collect samples from the comet 81P/Wild.
After this success, NASA formed the New Frontiers program that entailed a series of medium cost (<$700 million) highly focused missions to explore the Solar System. Some of the proposals includes the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno mission to Jupiter, as well as missions to study the Moon, the planet Venus and a comet. There is also the Flagship program, which is for much more expensive missions ($2–3 billion).

Viking 1
. An interplanetary probe is a spacecraft designed to visit any planets or other objects in our Solar System – from the planet Mercury to the dwarf planet Pluto and any moons, asteroids or comets.
. An interstellar precursor probe is a spacecraft pushing the technological boundaries of our capability to the furthest distances that can be reached at the highest speeds. Such a probe may go to the edge of our Solar System and the Kuiper Belt (out to 150 AU) or even as far as the Oort Cloud (>10,000 AU).
. An interstellar probe is a spacecraft designed specifically to approach near the orbit of another star system, such as to Alpha Centauri.
Source: K.F. Long, Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight


Launching in 2014, the Japan's 600 kg Spacecraft will study the Asteroid 1999 JU3 from multiple angles. To do it, it will using remote-sensing instruments, the MASCOT's lander and the MINERVA-2's rover .

Spacecraft Instruments include: X-band High-Gain Antenna (XHGA), Ka-band High-Gain Antenna (KaHGA), Solar Array Paddle (SAP), Small Lander (MASCOT-Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout), Re-entry capsule, Small rover (MINERVA 2), Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) and Sampler.
Key Dates for this Hayabusa-2 Mission are: launch was  in Dec. 3, 2014; the Earth Swing by was in Jan 1, 2015; the arrival at Asteroid 1999 JU3 in Jun 1, 2018; Leaving Asteroid for Earth in Dec 1, 2019; The Eand of Asteroid Mission in Jan 1, 2020 and, the samples returned to Earth in Dec 1, 2020.

Above, it is showing the Minerva-2's rover

Above, it is showing the installation of the Mascot's lander into the Spacecraft Hayabusa-2

The primary scientific objective of the mission is to collect at least a surface sample of materials and return it to Earth in a capsule for analysis. Also, the mission must enhance the reliability of asteroid exploration technologies.
Asteroid 1999 JU3 is a 900 m C-type, the most ancient object in our solar system. It rotate once in 7.6 hours and have an estimated surface’s albedo of about 0.06. This C-type asteroid includes clay, silicate rocks, organic matter, water and are dark in appearance.

The main structure: 1.0m x 1.6m x 1.4m. The paddle span is 6.0m

To reach its target, Hayabusa-2 has used a ion engine and an Earth Flyby in 2015. When it will reach Asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu) in 2018, it will observe the entire surface using a variety of remote-sensing instruments. After, the small lander MASCOT and the rover MINERVA-2 will be deposit on it.
At that time, MINERVA-2 will explore in detail to determine the best points for a touch-down. Once the site is selected, the spacecraft will collect samples from the surface in a "touch-and-go" approach. That’s mean, it will release an impactor, that will create a small artificial crater on the surface. Into this crater, it will attempt to touch down the asteroid to collect a deeper sample inthe sub-surface materials exposed. The samples will be stored in the capsule and returned to Earth after a long space travel trip. Normally, the sample will leaves Asteroid 1999 JU3 in Dec. 1, 2019.
In 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent the first historic asteroid sample return mission, Hayabusa, to asteroid Itokawa or 1998 SF36 (see below). The samples returned at that time was from an S-type asteroid. These Silicaceous types are made up of silicate (stony) materials and nickel-iron.
By studying this different type of asteroid (C-type), Hayabusa-2 hopes to investigate the origin of water and life on the Earth.

References: Hayabusa-2 Project / Website:

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

NASA's LRO was sent to the Moon to make high-resolution maps of the composition of the lunar surface and seek out potential sources of water-ice that may exist in the bottom of dark polar craters.

*This U.S. spacecraft has entered in its Extended Mission*

DAWN - First to Explore a Dwarf Planets

Dawn is designed to study the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations: VESTA and CERES.

*Now, the U.S. spacecraft has entered in its Extended Mission*

The Fantastic Voyage of JUNO to JUPITER

Pluto's spacecraft few seconds after launch in August 2011. Credit: NASA/JPL
The U.S. orbiter JUNO was launched on August 5, 2011, in the direction of Jupiter. The main goals are to Reveal the story of the formation and evolution of Jupiter. How did Jupiter form? Does it have a solid core? How is its vast magnetic field generated?

Space Travel of New Horizons to PLUTO

In July 14, 2015, after a space travel of more than nine years and three billion miles, New Horizons becoming the fastest spacecraft ever launched to reach its primary target, Pluto.

* Mission Extension recommended by Senior Review *

MAVEN - Mars Atmospheric and Volatile EvolutioN

MAVEN spacecraft at Mars

Long ago, Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported liquid water on the surface. At that time, Mars might have had environmental conditions to support microbial life, as the long-term presence of water is necessary to life as we know it.

* The Planetary Mission Senior Review (PMSR) recommended the pursuit of that mission*