Under NASA's plan, a spacecraft would get to the asteroid in the early 2020s — then pluck a car-sized boulder from the surface and head back toward Earth, to put the boulder in orbit around the moon.
A rocket carrying the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday. The spacecraft aims to collect samples from the asteroid Bennu.
Alex Longo makes a pitch at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, in October 2015. The Institute sponsored the conference to pick a landing site for the first human landing on Mars. Long has proposed a site for a different mission — a rover landing.
After entering orbit around Jupiter on July 4, the spacecraft's camera, JunoCam, has begun to send images like the one above back to Earth. Pictured here are Jupiter and three of its moons.
Courtesy of NASA