November 20, 2023 / Modified nov 20, 2023 11:22 a.m.


An original production highlighting the 20-year OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission that started at the University of Arizona.

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Over the course of 20 years, the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission has gone from dream to reality. The complex undertaking to collect an untouched sample from an ancient asteroid and return it safely to Earth was a first of its kind for NASA and the nation; and it all began at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Arizona Public Media has been there since the beginning chronicling the triumphs and challenges of this historic space mission highlighted in a one-hour feature documentary.

AZPM’s new original production, OSIRIS-REx: To Bennu and Back showcases every captivating element of this remarkable deep-space journey through exclusive footage and interviews with the team who led the historic mission. Building off of the 2016 documentary OSIRIS-REx: Countdown to Launch that followed the personal challenges and triumphs of the lead scientists as they worked to launch the history-making spacecraft, To Bennu and Back offers an inside look at the complete mission since its inception.

“AZPM is proud to have had such unprecedented access to the OSIRIS-REx mission, contributing to the global understanding of Earth's origins,” said Jack Gibson, AZPM Chief Executive Officer. “Thank you to the team who trusted us to tell the story of the incredible challenges, surprises, and human triumphs of this twenty-year space mission.”

Watch the broadcast premiere Wednesday, November 22 at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 or stream at Additional coverage of the OSIRIS-REx mission including the 2016 AZPM original production OSIRIS-REx: Countdown to Launch can be found at


In 2016 the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched on a mission to return samples from an ancient asteroid the size of the Empire State Building back to Earth. The target, Bennu, can be traced back 4.5 billion years making it our solar system’s oldest relic. In the years that followed, a team of scientists led by Dante Lauretta, Principal Investigator and University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Regents Professor have been tracking Bennu’s every move, leading to a successful surface touchdown in May 2021 and culminating in an exciting return to Earth in September 2023. The conclusion of the OSIRIS-REx mission is just the beginning as the research that follows will shed light on the origins of the universe and life on Earth. OSIRIS-REx: To Bennu and Back highlights the mission’s milestones including the spacecraft design, launch, flight, sample collection and return to Earth through exclusive footage and interviews.

About AZPM
Arizona Public Media (AZPM) is an editorially independent, nonprofit community service of the University of Arizona and provides three television program services (PBS 6, PBS 6 Plus, and PBS Kids), four radio services (NPR 89.1, Classical 90.5, Jazz 89.1 HD2, and the BBC World Service) and a variety of online program offerings at

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