Dec 3, 2018

NASA spacecraft arrives at near-Earth asteroid Bennu

Views of the asteroid Bennu from the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx, as the craft approached the asteroid. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully arrived at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu on Monday. It will now spend the next year orbiting the asteroid, searching for the best places to land and scoop up samples before eventually returning them to Earth for analysis in 2023, NASA said.

Why it matters: Asteroids are time capsules of the early solar system, thought to contain information about the origins of planets and the natural resources that enabled life to develop. Analyzing Bennu may help scientists learn more about the asteroid's composition, which could lead to new discoveries about how life evolved in the universe.

  • Bennu is rich in carbon, which means it may contain organic molecules and amino acids that could be similar to the building blocks of life on Earth.

What's next: In addition to looking back in time, NASA and private commercial space companies are developing plans to mine asteroids in the future for valuable minerals, for example, and this mission could provide the necessary justification for such plans.

  • The spacecraft itself — made by Lockheed Martin and operated in partnership with NASA — is an example of the already sizable role the private sector plays in the space industry.

Go deeper: The interstellar object Oumuamua is almost certainly not an alien spaceship

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:45 p.m. ET: 5,763,122 — Total deaths: 358,235 — Total recoveries — 2,389,735Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:45 p.m. ET: 1,715,811 — Total deaths: 101,337 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Education: Science fairs are going virtual, and some online elements may become permanent.
  6. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  7. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Minnesota activates National Guard amid fallout from George Floyd death

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.

Trump signs executive order targeting protections for social media platforms

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday designed to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms.

What they're saying: "Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not," Trump said in the Oval Office. "We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it's been very unfair."