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David Trang

David Trang has been selected as a participating scientist on NASA‘s first asteroid sample return mission, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx).

Trang is a postdoctoral associate at the Hawaiʻi Institute for Geophysics and Planetology in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

As a participating scientist, Trang will become a science team member during his three-year tenure with the mission.

The goal of OSIRIS-Rex is to explore Bennu, an asteroid approximately 1,600 feet in diameter orbiting in the solar system. It will take samples of the asteroid and return them to Earth.

Trang’s role is to help with preliminary survey maps of Bennu, which has been physically and chemically altered by exposure to the space environment, which is known as “space weathering.”

“Being a part of this mission is very exciting because I get to help explore a planetary body within our solar system that we have never visited before,” said Trang.

“This is scientifically significant to me because I get to try to understand how space weathering affects asteroids, which is still quite an enigma. Also, this opportunity to be part of a NASA mission is significant for me personally, because it’s been an honor and a dream of mine since I was a kid.”

OSIRIS-REx launched on September 8, 2016, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The return sample of a primitive asteroid could help scientists understand the formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago.

The spacecraft will arrive at Bennu in August 2018 and begin surveying the surface.

—By Marcie Grabowski

Artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Credit: NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center/CIL.
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