UCF has been invited to an exclusive party with NASA and you’re invited to follow along via Twitter on Friday, April 29.

NASA is in its final preparation stages of the OSIRIS-REx mission, which is expected to launch in September from the Kennedy Space Center. On Friday, 25 social media managers from across the nation are getting a first look at the spacecraft that will go to an asteroid, tap its surface and collect a sample of alien material before bringing it back home to Earth. It’s the first time America is attempting this kind of mission.

Two UCF professors are part of the mission’s imaging team. Pegasus Professor Humberto Campins and associate professor Yan Fernandez will help obtain and analyze maps of the surface of asteroid Bennu using the spacecraft’s onboard cameras. The University of Arizona is the lead institution and has assembled a team of national experts to assist. The maps will provide information about the topography and the physical and chemical characteristics of the surface of Bennu. This will help select the “TAG” (Touch and Go) site for sampling, and will also provide interesting scientific results about Bennu and other related asteroids.

Jennifer De Witt, UCF’s social media manager, will give the UCF community this rare opportunity. She’ll see the spacecraft at Lockheed Martin’s Space Operations and Simulation Center  in Colorado.

De Witt also will have access to Lockheed Martin’s  ”asteroid wall” and the mission-control room where the flight will be directed. The wall is a 50′ x 50′ space that provides more than 3 feet of topographic relief and is painted to match the low reflectivity of a common carbonaceous asteroid.

UCF will tweet from noon to 6 p.m. providing followers exclusive information and photos.

“I’m no space geek, but it is pretty exciting to be able to have an exclusive look at such a historic mission,” De Witt said. “I can’t wait to bring the content to our users.”

Tune in Friday on Twitter @UCF.