NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return needs an awesome soundtrack. Here's how you can submit your favorite songs

a cone-shaped capsule flies through space just above Earth's atmosphere
An illustration of the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule carrying material from asteroid Bennu to Earth. (Image credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio)

NASA's first asteroid sample will return to Earth next week, and you can help create the soundtrack for the spacecraft's epic touchdown. 

NASA is preparing a playlist for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's return to Earth, which will be hosted by an online radio station out of Houston, Texas, called Third Rock Radio. The station is hosting daily OSIRIS-REx-themed shows from 3 - 5 p.m. EDT through Sept. 22 and will feature the public's song suggestions related to the asteroid sample return mission.

"After OSIRIS-REx collected a sample from asteroid Bennu's surface, scientists discovered that the asteroid was so loosely packed that if a person were to step onto it they would feel as if they were stepping into a child's ball pit," NASA officials said in a statement. "To honor this rocky world, name a song that ROCKS!"

Related: NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return to Earth: Live updates

The OSIRIS-REx mission will make history by returning samples of the asteroid Bennu to Earth on Sunday, Sept. 24, after seven years in deep space. The spacecraft is expected to return a capsule containing about 9 ounces of rocks and dirt it collected from the asteroid in a special capsule, with its landing set for around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) at the Department of Defense's Utah Test and Training Range near Dugway, Utah.

Launched in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft — which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith EXplorer — reached asteroid Bennu in October 2020 and collected samples from the surface of the near-Earth asteroid. During its mission, OSIRIS-REx discovered Bennu is a rubble-pile asteroid, composed of rocks and dust loosely bound together by microgravity.

To submit your song requests  for an OSIRIS-REx playlist, visit Third Rock Radio or on NASA's social media. Each day has a unique theme, and you're encouraged to submit a song request that aligns with the theme. Today (Sept. 20), the theme is "time," in recognition of the age of the asteroid samples, which are estimated to be more than 4.5 billion years old, according to the NASA statement. 

"These rocks are a time capsule from the dawn of our solar system," NASA officials said. "Share your favorite songs related to time."

The remaining themes of the week include "The Power of Science" on Thursday, Sept. 21 and "The Final Countdown" on Friday, Sept. 22. Make sure to tune into the live shows each day to see if your song suggestion made the cut for the OSIRIS-REx Return of the Rock playlist!

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13. 

  • Mike_Z
    Don't see how "WE WILL ROCK YOU" won't win. not just bc of the iconic lyrics and melody, but... SIR BRIAN MAY CBE PHD!