Asteroid Bennu getting first visitor in billions of years

(Image: Shutterstock)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An asteroid that may hold the key to life is getting its first visitor in billions of years.

Asteroid Bennu (BEN’-oo), a black roundish rock taller than the Empire State Building, is the intended target of a NASA spacecraft set to blast off tomorrow night.

Not only will the robotic probe fly to the ancient asteroid, it will scout it out for two years before scooping up some gravel and dust, and deliver the samples back to Earth.

All told, the mission will take seven years, from launch to sample return.

Flying to another world is no simple matter. Neither is vacuuming samples off an asteroid. One of the scientists involved says, “We’re going out into the unknown.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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