NASA grabs asteroid sample in historic operation

NASA made history on Tuesday (October 20) with the first-ever attempt to collect a sample from an asteroid in space to return it to Earth for study.

Asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system's formation some four and a half billion years ago.

And scientists say the Bennu asteroid could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed a complex maneuver to drill into the Bennu asteroid for five seconds to retrieve the sample.

Dr. Lucy Lim is a NASA planetary scientist.

"It's just scientifically really exciting. It's the first time we've been - tried to touch the surface of another solar system object - the first time NASA has tried to do that in order to bring back a sample in a really long time. And the first time NASA has tried to do it on an asteroid."

The spacecraft's journey to Bennu began in 2016 with a launch from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

It has been in orbit around the asteroid for nearly two years, over 100 million miles from Earth, preparing for the "touch and go" maneuver.

Scientists believe the mission will provide information about the building blocks of the solar system.

According to NASA, Bennu has a one in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth late into the next century.