Asteroid Art Express

NASA has issued an invitation. Here’s the criteria for accepting:

  • Space enthusiast
  • Artistic talent
  • Media: sketch, photo, graphic poem, song, short video or the like
  • Twitter or Instagram account to submit through
  • Can meet a March 20, 2016 deadline

“What’s this all about?” the dear reader asks the gringa. Well, I’ll tell ya. NASA is going to launch the OSIRIS-REx (no, it is not an Egyptian dinosaur) into space. This spacecraft is so named by this clever acronym so as to avoid having to say the mouthful: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. Yes, exactly. So, we shall call it OSIRIS-REx (or, in gringa language, Rexi).

Rexi’s purpose is to travel to an asteroid named Bennu and collect a sample which it will return to Earth for further study. However, Earthlings will not simply be taking on this trip. We will also be giving. Earthlings will be transmitting to the universe what the spirit of exploration means and what it means to be an explorer.

Artists, worldwide, get inspired. Consider a machine of metal and microchips to be your canvas against a backdrop of twilight infinity. Your creativity will be available to all little green men who may be passing through the cosmos for millennia.

All submissions will be saved on a chip and launched into the netherworlds in September, 2016. This year’s submissions will join the 442,000 that were gathered in the “Messages to Bennu” campaign of 2014. The link below will take you to more information for how to be a part of this artistic endeavor:

And NASA has made room for more than artists and asteroid samples aboard Rexi. Sharing space on-board will also be an experiment created by over 100 graduate students from MIT and Harvard, the Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (that would be REXIS in space lingo). It is hoped that it will be successful in evaluating the abundance of elements upon Bennu’s surface. REXI is fully integrated into OSIRIS-REx and the inspiration behind the REx part of the name. Exciting work from the upcoming, new generation of scientists and engineers that will continue the legacy of space exploration.

Another important fact about this mission is that it is the very first U.S. mission to retrieve an asteroid sample. Scientists will use the geological material to search for clues to how the solar system began and see if there is any evidence of water or organic matter. If their presence is detected, Bennu could be considered as a possible source of the origins of life on Earth.

Although this is classified as a U.S. mission, one of the spacecraft’s most critical components for mission success was provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The Canadians developed OLA (OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter). This laser will create three dimensional maps of the asteroid which will be used to determine the site for geological sample collection.

OSIRIS-REx is in the final test phase before scheduled launch in September. Over the next five months every system, switch, and doo-dad will undergo rigorous examination and testing before final launch preparations begin. If all goes well, artists, scientists and engineers will make U.S. space history.

“Bennu’s Journey” is a six minute video on NASA’s YouTube channel. NASA’s preface to the video:

“Bennu’s Journey is a 6-minute animated movie about NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, Asteroid Bennu, and the formation of our solar system. Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years, Asteroid Bennu has had a tough life in a rough neighborhood – the early solar system. Bennu’s Journey shows what is known and what remains mysterious about the evolution of Bennu and the planets. By retrieving a sample of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will teach us more about the raw ingredients of the solar system and our own origins.”

Hundreds of thousands of space enthusiasts have enjoyed viewing “Bennu’s Journey”, the gringa included. The gringa hopes all of her dear readers enjoy it as well.



Image source:





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A barrio gringa with a dream of cosmic proportions: writing to satiate my insatiable curiosity, worldwide literacy beginning with our youth, and to be the first barrio gringa to explore outer space!

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