NASA Johnson Builds Labs to Study New Asteroid Samples, Cosmic Mysteries

A rendering of the new asteroid lab being built at Johnson Space Center. When the samples are returned to Earth in 2023 they will be brought to this lab for curation and initial examination. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — When the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touches asteroid Bennu, it will capture NASA’s first sample from an asteroid and provide rare specimens for research that scientists hope will help them shed light on the many mysteries of our solar system’s formation.

The sample is scheduled for return to Earth in 2023 to be examined and stored in state-of-the-art curation facilities now under construction at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The labs will be managed by NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, also known as ARES. The division is home to the world’s greatest astromaterials collections — including lunar rocks, solar wind particles, meteorites, and comet samples — and some of the experts who research them.

(more…)

Planetary Resources 3D Prints Object From Meteorite

Credit: Planetary Resources
Credit: Planetary Resources

REDMOND, Wa. (Planetary Resources PR) — The future of space colonization and industrialization can now be visualized.

Planetary Resources, in collaboration with our partner 3D Systems, have developed the first ever direct metal print from asteroid metals. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today in Las Vegas, NV., we unveiled the geometric object on the Engadget stage.

Credit: Planetary Resources
Credit: Planetary Resources

This spacecraft prototype was 3D printed from actual an asteroid that was, pulverized, powdered and processed on the new 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) ProX DMP 320 metals 3D printer. It is the first part ever 3D Printed with material from outer space and is reminiscent of a design that could originate from a 3D printer in the zero-gravity environment of space.

The asteroid (or meteorite) used for the print materials was sourced from the Campo Del Cielo impact near Argentina, and is composed of iron, nickel and cobalt – similar materials to refinery grade steel.