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NASA's OSIRIS-REX spacecraft arrives at asteroid Bennu after long journey

On Sunday afternoon, OSIRIS-REX was less than 20 miles from the asteroid, which itself is about 76 million miles from…

On Sunday afternoon, OSIRIS-REX was less than 20 miles from the asteroid, which itself is about 76 million miles from the earth in its orbit around the sun. The vessel spans the remaining distance to Bennu after another shot of its thrusters, which the team will monitor carefully.

The spacecraft – a roughly cube shaped boat about 8 feet on each side – will spend about a year measuring and mapping Bennu. If all goes well, the craft will lower its 11-foot robot arm to the surface of the 1,600-foot wide asteroid for a few seconds in 2020 to suck a test of regolith (dust and pebbles that believed to fill the asteroid).

The test will return to Earth for studies, scheduled to arrive in September 2023. It will be the largest selection from space since the Apollo era and the first selection of an asteroid that ever returned to Earth by an American space mission.

Japan’s Hayabusa mission returned a small selection of an asteroid called 251

43 Itokawa in 2010; a successor craft, Hayabusa-2, arrived at an asteroid named Ryugu last year and is expected to return a trial by 2020.

“OSIRIS-REX and Hayabusa 2 are companions”, Dante Lauretta, a planet science student at the University of Arizona and the main researcher for the OSIRIS-REx mission, said in September. “We work together to understand the history of the solar system.”

Deflection of the massive asteroid 101955 Bennu was the focus of the latest research on a national defense team. Bennu will do a very close approach to the earth on September 25, 2135. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The OSIRIS REx mission is designed to enhance our understanding of asteroids and the growth and development of our solar system also to provide insights on how life came about. Seven-year, $ 800 million mission is also intended to help assess the possibility of asteroid mining and to help researchers find ways to keep large asteroids colliding with the earth.

Bennu, one of 700,000 known asteroids in the sun The system is characterized as potentially dangerous because there is a chance that it could collide with the Earth in the late 20th century.

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