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NASA's plan to scoop up dirt from asteroid hits a snag

By The News · 22 of March 2019 08:30:16
AP Photo,, No available, FILE - This artist's rendering made available by NASA in July 2016 shows the mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Scientists had thought the asteroid Bennu had wide, open areas to scoop up dirt and gravel. But on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, NASA announced the probe hasn’t found any big spots for sampling. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — NASA’s plan to scoop up dirt and gravel from an asteroid has hit a snag.

Scientists thought the asteroid Bennu had wide, open areas suitable for the task. But a spacecraft now circling the asteroid revealed the surface is covered with boulders and there aren’t any big, smooth spots for sampling.

In a paper released Tuesday by the journal Nature, scientists say they plan to take a closer look at a few smaller areas that might work. But they said sampling from those spots poses “a substantial challenge.”

The spacecraft, called Osiris-Rex, is supposed to bring the samples to Earth for further study.

The small asteroid is 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) from Earth.