Skip to main content

Touched by an Asteroid: At-home Resources for NASA’s Latest Asteroid Mission

October 29, 2020

NISE Network


NASA celebrated a major accomplishment in October when the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully touched an ancient asteroid known as Bennu–currently more than 200 million miles away from Earth!  OSIRIS-REx’s interplanetary encounter with Bennu lasted just long enough for the spacecraft to gather about 60 grams of loose rocks and dirt from the surface. These samples are leftover debris from when our solar system formed and can teach scientists about the early history of the Sun and planets. OSIRIS-Rex will leave Bennu in early 2021 and return to Earth with its precious scientific cargo in late 2023.

We have put together a list of resources that will help you share this important discovery and explore asteroids with your audiences further. These materials could be used individually or together in a virtual class or camp.


Bennu asteroid Touch and Go GIF


OSIRIS-REx Touches Asteroid Bennu

Watch the moment that OSIRIS-Rex makes contact with Bennu and collects its samples. This short and sharable video has a mix of NASA visualizations and live recordings from the spacecraft during the event.


OSIRIS-REx 3D Model and Paper Model

Help your audiences visualize the spacecraft and understand its components through a 3D virtual model or a print-out paper model.

OSIRIS-REx paper spacecraft model image


Explore with Bennu’s Journey video and Bennu Trek (download link)

Bennu's Journey is a 6-minute animated movie about NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, Asteroid Bennu, and the formation of our solar system. Download videos and posters of the movie here.

Bennu Trek is an amazing browser-based portal that allow you to visualize, explore, and analyze the surface of Bennu using real NASA data returned from OSIRIS-Rex.

poster for Bennu's Journey film by NASA


Exploring the Solar System: Asteroid Mining

This NISE Net activity will let your audience imagine the challenges and opportunities of asteroid mining. This at-home friendly resource will allow participants to reflect and draw asteroid mining machines, while considering the differing concerns or priorities they might have as a scientist, explorer, lawyer, or engineer working in the future.

Asteroid Mining hands-on activity photo


Exploring the Solar System: Pocket Solar System

This NISE Net activity helps participants step through the process of creating a scale model of the universe using a long strip of paper. The activity can easily be modified for at-home use by asking participants to draw solar system objects instead of using stickers included with the toolkit. The model will allow participants to see how tightly packed the rocky, terrestrial planets are in the solar system and locate the asteroid belt–the home of many asteroids in the solar system between Mars and Jupiter.

Pocket Solar System hands-on activity image


Learn about upcoming opportunities, events, ways to grow professionally, and inspiring stories from network partners.