NASA's asteroid explorer faces tests that simulate space

OSIRIS-REx has to pass a regimen that includes extreme cold and vacuum.

Lockheed Martin

Before NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft can visit an asteroid to collect samples, it'll have to run a tough gauntlet. The probe is undergoing a 22-day thermal vacuum test that will see whether or not it can function in the unforgiving conditions of space. On top of working in an atmosphere-free environment, it'll face temperatures as cold as -274F and the periodic heat of a simulated Sun. So long as OSIRIS-REx makes the grade, it'll largely be ready for its September launch and the epic 7-year journey toward the asteroid Bennu.