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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft lifts off from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Osiris-Rex will travel to asteroid Bennu, collect ground samples, then haul them back to Earth. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

A spaceship that just launched is traveling to an asteroid to look for the origin of life


NASA launched a spacecraft on Thursday evening that's due back in 2023. What's it doing in the meantime? Looking for the origins of life. 

The Osiris-Rex explorer launched in Florida and is on its way to a space rock called "Bennu." The trip will take seven years and culminate in the collection of a few handfuls of gravel. It doesn't sound terribly exciting, but authorities are hoping these bits of space rock can clue them in on the origin of life, according to the AP.

Just how can some gravel tell us about where we come from? 

According to NASA's mission website, primitive asteroids like Bennu have not changed significantly in composition since they were created billions of years ago. Bennu could contain amino acids, organic molecules, and other substances that might help scientists understand how life got started. 

Check out this awesome shot from the mission's official Instagram account. 

The University of Arizona Twitter account posted this awesome video. 

Circa 60 8th Take 2

For more news you need, check out the 60 Second Circa. 

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