|Depiction of the Osiris-Rex module|
Bennu's organic compounds could explain how life on Earth evolved
By studying the organic compounds that have been identified on Bennu, NASA seeks to better understand how organic structures evolve and complicate in a "lifeless" environment. Their findings will help to elucidate the way that organic compounds might have evolved on Earth in the early stages of the development of life. Osiris-Rex is equipped to gather Bennu's carbon-rich resources and return with several pounds of amino acids, to be thoroughly analyzed in 2023.
NASA building on the findings of European Space Agency's Rosetta Spacecraft
|Marooned Philae probe finally discovered after two years|
Osiris-Rex is expected to build on the discoveries of Philae, investigating the exciting possibilities of advanced organic compounds in deep space. However, Osiris-Rex is unique in that it will actually return to Earth with the desired organic compounds. While certainly a more ambitious prospect, this will afford NASA the opportunity to test the compounds far more extensively, yielding more varied and useful results.
Future missions could face jeopardy due to dwindling budget
NASA has long been a mainstay for politicians, who take advantage of its popularity with the public in order to garner support. However, the promised budget increases are always modest, and can rarely keep pace with the growing federal budget. In fact, NASA's budget with respect to the federal budget has seen a steady decline for over a decade. Many experts such as Dittmar fear that events like the recent launch of Osiris-Rex might go from being a scientific headline to a rare indulgence of innovation. As NASA's annual budget is finalized, it will be interesting to see where the budget finally lands. Perhaps there is more riding on Osiris-Rex than just a few precious pounds of organic compounds.