After a two-year hunt, a NASA spacecraft has arrived at the old asteroid Bennu, the first visitor for billions of…
After a two-year hunt, a NASA spacecraft has arrived at the old asteroid Bennu, the first visitor for billions of years.
Robot explorer Osiris-Rex took Monday within 19 km of the diamond-shaped spacecraft. It will come even closer in the coming days and enter a orbit around Bennu on December 31st. No spacecraft has ever curved such a small cosmic body.
It’s the first American attempt to collect asteroid samples to return to Earth, just something Japan has achieved so far.
Flight controllers applauded and swapped high fingers when confirmation came by Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu ̵
1; just one week after NASA landed spacecraft on Mars.
“Easy, proud and anxious to start exploring!” Tweeted Leading Researcher Dante Lauretta at the University of Arizona. “To Bennu and back!”
With Bennu about 122 million miles away, it took seven minutes for words to come from spacecraft to the airline control at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado. The company built spacecraft there.
Bennu is estimated to be more than 500 meters above. Researchers will provide a more accurate description at a scientific meeting next Monday in Washington.
About the size of an SUV, spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year before boasting some gravel to return to earth in 2023.  To Bennu and back! https://t.co/i4i3564jZK
– Dante Lauretta (@DSLauretta) December 3, 2018
Researchers are keen to study material from a colonial asteroid like dark Bennu, which can hold evidence that goes back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago . As such, it is an astronomical time capsule.
A Japanese spacecraft has since hung on another asteroid near the Earth since June, also for testing. It is Japan’s second asteroid mission. This latest rock is called Ryugu and is twice the size of Bennu.
Rough stains should be here by December 2020, but will be significantly less than the Osiris-Rex promised byte.
Osiris-Rex aims to collect at least 60 grams of dust and gravel. The spacecraft will not land, but usually use a three-mechanical arm by 2020 to temporarily touch and dust particles. The sample container would break down and lead to Earth in 2021.
The collection – parachute down to Utah – would represent the greatest cosmic rise since the Apollo astronauts handmade moonstones to the earth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 19659004] NASA has recycled comet dust and solar wind particles before, but never asteroid samples. Japan managed to return some small particles in 2010 from its first asteroid mission, also known as Hayabusa.
Bennu and Ryugu are considered potentially dangerous asteroids. That means they could hit the earth for years now. In the worst case, Bennu would cut out a crater during a projected closed conversation 150 years from now on.
Contact with Bennu will not change its orbit significantly or make it more dangerous to us, Lauretta emphasized.
Scientists claim the more they learn about asteroids, the better equipped earth will be heading for a truly catastrophic strike.
The $ 800 million Osiris-Rex Mission began with a 2016 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its mileage meter reads two billion miles from Monday.
Both spacecraft and asteroids are named from Egyptian mythology. Osiris is the survivor’s god, while Bennu represents the heron and creation.
Osiris-Rex is actually a NASA acronym of origin, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security regolith explorer.