NASA spacecraft is about to take a leap of faith with an aim of making a contact with asteroid Bennu for an important task of collecting rock samples and bringing it back to earth.

The American spacecraft that is about to carry out the mission is known as OSIRIS-Rex, short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. It is a NASA asteroid-study and sample return mission which launched in September 2016. It reached close to Bennu in December 2018 and has been orbiting the potentially hazardous asteroid with a mean diameter of 490m for two years and gathering important details about the flying object.

Meanwhile, Bennu is an Apollo class asteroid which is rich in carbonaceous material. According to CNN, on Tuesday, the spacecraft will attempt to grab a handful of material from the surface of the celestial body and bring it back to earth by 2023. It will use its robotic arm to stretch out to the surface to collect a sample which may vary from 2 ounces and 2 kilograms.

Located 200 million miles away from Earth, Bennu is a diamond-shaped pile of rubble floating in the space. Among several discoveries about Bennu, scientists figure that it hosts two types of boulders.

"The abundance of carbon-bearing material is a major scientific triumph for the mission. We are now optimistic that we will collect and return a sample with organic material – a central goal of the OSIRIS-REx mission," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson in a statement as published on NASA blog.

In 2019, OSIRIS-REx sent out its first close image of Bennu from a distance of 600 meters.

"It's a historic first mission for NASA, returning an asteroid sample, and it's hard," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, during a press conference on Monday.

"Bennu is almost a Rosetta Stone out there, and it tells the history of our Earth and solar system during the last billions of years. Bennu has presented a lot of challenges, but the ingenuity of the team has enabled us to get where we are."

Bennu asteroid Nasa Osiris-Rex
The Osiris-Rex probe will survey the potentially lethal Bennu asteroid before returning to earth with samples (artists' impression) Nasa

As noted, the spacecraft will be performing the entire sequence and procedure autonomously as the possibility of live commands from Earth remains impossible. NASA will reportedly Livestream an animation showcasing the sequence based on the commands they receive from OSIRIS-REx. The entire mission is expected to take 4.5 hours.