Illustration of OSIRIS-REx orbiting Bennu.

More than four years ago, OSIRIS-REx lifted off from Cape Canaveral. Since then, the NASA spacecraft has traveled more than a billion miles under the command of the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab’s Dante Lauretta. In just a few days, on Tuesday, Oct. 20, the robotic explorer will attempt to grab a sample from the asteroid Bennu before heading back to earth.

Associate editor Jeff Gardner’s award-winning coverage of the space mission continues this week with details about what’s next for OSIRIS-REx. Be sure to follow us online next week as we track the efforts to retrieve the sample. It’s a mission we can all be proud of.

Speaking of pride: I’m excited to announce that Tucson Local Media brought home seven awards in this year’s Arizona Press Club competition.

Associate editor Gardner won a first place award for in the science writing category among community papers for his story about autonomous trucking in Southern Arizona. Judge Lisa M. Krieger, science writer at the Mercury News, said Gardner’s work was a “thorough and comprehensive look at the introduction of autonomous vehicles in the world of trucking. Great summary of the environmental, economic and cultural/job training impacts.” Gardner also won second place in the community political reporting category for his story on the Trump administration’s efforts to build a border wall across the San Pedro River, Southern Arizona’s last free-flowing river.

Brian Smith, who pens the Tucson Salvage column for Tucson Weekly, won three awards. He took first place statewide in the personality profile category for “Requiem for a Dream,” about artist Alvaro Enciso, who places handmade crosses in the desert to mark places where migrant bodies have been found. Smith also won first place in the community personality profile category for “Step by Step,” a profile of Marquez “Quezzy” Johnson, who teaches children dance moves at DansWest. Smith also won third place in statewide column writing. 

Calendar Editor Emily Dieckman took second place in the community personality profile category and third place honors in community social issues reporting category.

Congratulations also go to our new staff reporter, Nicole Ludden, who won second place in the statewide immigration reporting category.

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