Anticipation, countdown, hope, and satisfaction as NASA sends a 2000 kg bundle of high-precision instruments into orbit.
Earlier this month, Lassondians were proud to host an array of researchers, professors, students, and space enthusiasts alike as they gathered to witness the launch of the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid lander. OSIRIS-Rex began its eight-year mission with a successfully fiery launch from Cape Canaveral on the evening of September 8th—it will go on to make history when it lands on asteroid Bennu, collects samples and images, and returns to Earth in 2023. The mission aims to study samples from the surface of the 4 billion year old asteroid so that we may improve understanding of our solar system’s formation, evolution, and future.
The OSIRIS launch party was a historic event in itself, as Lassonde received scientists and researchers from institutions around the world, including York University. We direct our applause especially to Lassonde’s Professor Mike Daly, who helped develop the OSIRIS-Rex’s Laser Altimeter (OLA), an instrument that accurately measures distance using light. Furthermore, some of the lead researchers are York students continuing their graduate studies within the ESSE department. Students roles are often downplayed in large scientific projects, but the multitudes of graduate and undergraduate students are essential.
Significantly, this launch happened on the first day of school. Many of the attendee’s were bright, eager, and curious students looking to find their own way. To borrow the words of the MC, “we aren’t just launching rockets, we’re launching student careers”. York University, and especially Lassonde, has played and continues to play an important role internationally in the research and development of space missions. This academic year also boasted the biggest incoming class in Lassonde’s history. As the faculty grows larger and establishes itself more prominently in the academic community, there will be more and more opportunities for even undergraduate students to get involved in projects like NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex. Students just have to go out and find their chance.