The Asteroid Hunter
A Scientist’s Journey to the Dawn of our Solar System
by Dante Lauretta
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Pub Date 19 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 19 Apr 2024
On September 11, 1999, humanity made a monumental discovery in the vastness of space. Scientists uncovered an asteroid of immense scientific importance—a colossal celestial entity. As massive as an aircraft carrier and towering as high as the iconic Empire State Building, this cosmic titan was later named Bennu. Remarkable for much more than its size, Bennu belonged to a rare breed of asteroids capable of revealing the essence of life itself. But just as Bennu became a beacon of promise, researchers identified a grave danger. Hurtling through space, it threatens to collide with our planet on September 24, 2182.
Leading the expedition was Dr. Dante Lauretta, the Principal Investigator of NASA's audacious OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission. Tasked with unraveling Bennu's mysteries, his team embarked on a daring quest to retrieve a precious sample from the asteroid's surface — one that held the potential to not only unlock the secrets of life's origins but also to avert an unprecedented catastrophe.
A tale of destiny and danger, The Asteroid Hunter chronicles the high-stakes mission firsthand, narrated by Dr. Lauretta. It offers readers an intimate glimpse into the riveting exploits of the mission and Dr. Lauretta's wild, winding personal journey to Bennu and back. Peeling back the curtain on the wonders of the cosmos, this enthralling account promises a rare glimpse into the tightly woven fabric of scientific exploration, where technical precision converges with humanity’s profound curiosity and indominable spirit.
"A beautifully written, first-hand report from the scientific leader of an awe-inspiring NASA mission, aimed at the pioneering delivery of material from an ancient asteroid to Earth. While the book educates us about the technological heights of human ingenuity, the returned asteroid material would teach us about our cosmic roots within the solar system and the organic molecules that sourced life on Earth."—Avi Loeb, Professor of Science at Harvard University and bestselling author of Extraterrestrial
“The Asteroid Hunter is an inspiring memoir of the boldest mission NASA has ever flown: the journey to the most dangerous asteroid in the solar system, which contains the secrets of how life began on Earth. Dante Lauretta’s poetic account of the thrilling journey establishes him firmly in the pantheon of great explorer-authors of our time. The Asteroid Hunter is a work no space enthusiast should miss.”—David W. Brown, author of The Mission
"In this captivating, behind-the-scenes account of the OSIRIS-REx NASA asteroid sample return mission, PI Dante Lauretta provides an unmatched portrayal of the joys and challenges from an insider's perspective. A fascinating read."—Sara Seager, award-winning author of The Smallest Lights in the Universe and a professor of physics and planetary science at MIT
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