SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In Salt Lake City, hundreds are celebrating NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft hitting Utah soil and how it’s inspiring the next generation of scientists.
At the Clark Planetarium in Downtown Salt Lake City, nearly 200 people filled the Dome Theatre to watch the landing around 8:52 a.m. Sunday morning.
“It’s absolutely amazing and it’s here in Salt Lake City,” NASA Innovations and Technical Partnerships Lead Joseph Minafra said. “Many people in this area don’t realize that NASA is here.”
Many people might not realize it, according to Minafra, but some Utah children definitely do.
“When it was in the atmosphere we saw it falling,” 11-year-old twins Crew and Mckay said after watching the landing. “It disappeared because it slowed down and then we saw the big parachute come out!”
At the Planetarium, workers say they’ve been preparing for the landing and watch party for weeks.
“For the celebration of this event, NASA and others have created a lot of amazing artwork and visualizations for this,” Clark Planetarium Education Program Specialist Thomas Quayle said. “It’s been so much fun.”
For one Utah family, this morning’s landing brings things full circle. The Andrews say they were there for the OSIRIS-REx Launch in Florida. Now they’re seven years older, happen to live in Utah and went to the watch party.
“It’s pretty crazy,” says Denise Andrews. “I was wondering when we saw it launch where we would be and if we would know when it landed. It’s pretty cool that it worked out this way.”
NASA scientists like Minafra say the mission doesn’t end here, but the discoveries they make from today can impact future generations.
“Kids today, when they grow up, if this is something they’re really interested in, there will be material that’s pristine that’s never touched the atmosphere here on earth that they can reach out and learn about,” he said.
It’s a possibility some future scientists at the launch party are taking to heart.
“If I were to be a scientist, it’s interesting to know that I could look at the sample they brought back,” 8-year-old Katelyn Andrews said.
To celebrate today’s landing, NASA said they released a US Postal Stamp commemorating the mission. You can find it at your local post office.