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

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There are warning signs that Nevada could be Iowa all over again

Former Sen. Harry Reid (D) lines up to cast an early vote for the upcoming Nevada Democratic presidential caucus. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The alarms are increasingly sounding over Nevada's Democratic caucus, which is just five days away.

Why it matters: Similar issues to the ones that plagued Iowa's caucus seem to be rearing their ugly heads, the WashPost reports.

China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health

Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.