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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.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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

Go deeper

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.