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NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe will snag a piece of an asteroid Tuesday! Here's how to watch.

Update for Oct. 20, 6:58 pm ET: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully performed its asteroid Bennu sample-collection attempt, though it will take up to 10 days to determine if samples were actually captured. Read our full story and wrap up here.

Original Story: 

NASA will broadcast an epic "touch and go" on Tuesday (Oct. 20) as a spacecraft descends toward an asteroid called Bennu to pick up a precious sample of dust, and you can watch it all live online.

The events start today (Oct. 19) with a series of preview briefings by scientists with the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu. They begin at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) and run throughout the day, covering the mission's science, planetary defense against asteroids and more. You can watch it all here (opens in new tab) and on the Space.com homepage, courtesy of NASA TV.

On Tuesday, live coverage of the descent of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, known more formally as the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, will start at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) on NASA Television. You can also catch the action on the OSIRIS-REx Twitter feed (opens in new tab), where you can ask questions of the landing team using the hashtag #ToBennuandBack.

Related: OSIRIS-REx: NASA's asteroid sample-return mission in pictures

If all goes to plan, the spacecraft will depart from orbit around 1:50 p.m. EDT (1750 GMT) and do its sample collection on the surface at 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT), according to a NASA statement. The landing is just one of several events that NASA will broadcast to give information about the mission. 

Here are the other things the agency has planned. All times are in Eastern Daylight Time.

Monday, Oct. 19

  • 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT): Asteroid science and planetary defense media teleconference 
  • 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT): Science and engineering televised briefing  
  • 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. (event begins at 5 p.m.)  – Live Social Media Question-and-Answer Session, airing on NASA TV

Tuesday, Oct. 20

  • 1:20 to 6:30 p.m. – Live stream animation displaying OSIRIS-REx’s sample collection activities in real time. 
  • 5 to 6:30 p.m. – Live broadcast from Lockheed Martin of OSIRIS-REx’s descent to the surface of Bennu and attempt at sample collection.

Wednesday, Oct. 21

  • 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT): Post-sampling news conference with release of new images
  • 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. – A NASA Science Live episode will air with team members answering live questions from the public about TAG, OSIRIS-REx, and asteroid science. Use #ToBennuAndBack to participate. 

Virtual NASA Social

NASA also will host a #ToBennuAndBack Virtual NASA Social. More details are available after putting your RSVP in a Facebook event, which will provide social media updates. Participants will be able to interact with fellow space enthusiasts, virtually tour the asteroid and receive a NASA Social badge, among other activities, NASA said.

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.