In pop culture, asteroids are a big deal. In Hollywood movies, they threaten to destroy Earth. And there was that Atari video arcade game, Asteroids. Asteroids are also a big deal to scientists. NASA’s going to send an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid, get close enough to gather a sample, then bring it home. Dan Scheeres is a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado, and part of what’s called the OSIRIS-REx mission. "By going and studying these rocks, these minerals, we’re actually getting direct insight into what the conditions were like, what materials were out there, when the solar system was forming." Scheeres gives CPR’s Zachary Barr a little Asteroid 101.

[Photo: NASA]