Project Highlight

Advanced Sample And Asteroid Curation Facility


Johnson Space Center, Texas

The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Complex Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office, part of the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division, is responsible for the curation of extraterrestrial samples from NASA’s past and future sample return missions. Their mission includes the documentation, preservation, and preparation of samples from the Moon, asteroids, comets, solar wind, and the planet Mars, with a top priority to secure the future availability of these samples for the worldwide scientific community.

NASA required a curation laboratory dedicated to the OSIRIS-Rex program. The OSIRIS-REx is a NASA asteroid study and sample-return mission. The mission’s primary goal is to obtain a sample of at least 60 grams from 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid, and return the sample to Earth for a detailed analysis. The asteroid is believed to be a primitive type that is rich in organic matter. Such primitive asteroids contain original material from the cloud of dust and gas that gave rise to our solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago and could yield important clues about its formation.

Advon Corporation was selected to renovate portions of the first and second floor of Building 31 to provide clean room facilities for the storage and study of asteroid samples. Existing offices, a conference room, and equipment labs were demolished and replaced with new offices and a new conference room, clean rooms, and circulation space. When OSIRIS-REx returns to Earth in 2023, the Advanced Sample and Asteroid Curation Facility will be ready to receive the Bennu samples retrieved by OSIRIS-Rex.

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