The robotic explorer Osiris Rex pulled out within 12 miles of the diamond shaped space rock. It’ll get much closer in the days ahead and move in orbit around Bennu in December. 31.
It’s the first U.S. Attempt to assemble asteroid samples for the return to Earth, something just Japan has accomplished thus far. Flight controllers applauded and exchanged vivid emotions once confirmation came through that Osiris Rex made it to Bennu – just one week later NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars.
Relieved, joyful, and nervous to start researching!, tweeted lead researcher Dante Lauretta at the University of Arizona. To Bennu and rear! With Bennu some 76 million miles away, it took seven minutes for the word to pass from the probe to the flight controls in Lockheed Martin at Littleton, Colorado. The business built the spacecraft there.
Bennu is estimated to be just over 1, 600 ft across. About the size of a SUV, the spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year, before digging out any gravel for return to Earth at 2023. Scientists are keen to study material in the carbon rich asteroid such as dark Bennu, which might hold signs dating back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion decades ago.
A Japanese spacecraft, meanwhile, has been hanging out at another nearby Earth asteroid since June, too for samples. It’s Japan’s second asteroid mission. This newest rock is named Ryugu and about double the magnitude of Bennu. Ryugu’s specks should be here by December 2020, but it will be much less than Osiris Rex’s guaranteed booty.
Osiris Rex intends to collect at least 60 grams, or 2 ounces, of dust and gravel. The spacecraft won’t soil, but rather utilize a 10 foot mechanical arm in 2020 to momentarily touchdown and evacuation of particles. The sample container could break loose and head toward Earth at 2021.
NASA has brought back comet dust and sun powered breeze particles previously, yet never space rock tests.Japan managed to reunite a few small particles in 2010 from its first asteroid mission, also named Hayabusa. Bennu and Ryugu are considered potentially dangerous asteroids. Which means they can hit Earth years from today?
At worst, Bennu would carve out a crater during a projected close call 150 years from today. Contact with Bennu won’t substantially change its orbit or make it more harmful to us, Lauretta stressed. Scientists contend the more they learn about asteroids, the better equipped Earth is going to be in heading off a truly catastrophic attack.
The $800 million Osiris Rex mission started with a 2016 launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its odometer read 1.2 billion miles as of Monday. The spacecraft and asteroid’s name come in Egyptian mythology.
Osiris is the god of later life, while Bennu signifies the heron as well as creation. Osiris Rex is in fact a NASA acronym for origins, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security-regolith explorer.