NASA Shares First Images From The Sky Stone Bennu

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 24, 2020

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its "touch-and-go" landing on Tuesday evening, with the confirmation message reaching ground control some 18 minutes after the actual event (due to the distances involved).

In the images, which were stitched together to show the spacecraft touching down, the spacecraft's robotic arm appeared to crush some of the porous rocks on the surface.

"When we arrived, we realized very, very quickly that there wasn't a single area on the entire asteroid that was 50 metres across that had no obstacles", said Tim Haltigin, senior mission scientist of planetary exploration at the Canadian Space Agency. After the brief contact, the spacecraft fired its thrusters to move away from the asteroid again.

Once the spacecraft has a sufficient sample, it will travel back to Earth, parachuting into Utah's west desert on September 24, 2023. But it never tried to collect and return a sample from an asteroid. If not, the team will have to make another TAG attempt in January 2021.

The spacecraft is believed to have spent approximately 5 of the 6 seconds of contact collecting surface material, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

That, mission head Dante Lauretta said, was a good thing, since it likely produced the kind of fragments more easily collected by the arm.

OSIRIS-REx has been orbiting Bennu for two years now, studying the rock intently to calculate how and where to swoop down and scoop up a sample of material. The rate at which it spins from a given amount of thrust will be compared to the rate of spin from the same maneuver conducted before Tuesday's collection; the more material gathered, the slower the rate of spin will now be. The low gravity of Bennu allowed the craft to tap the surface at a carefully chosen location known as Nightingale.

Several studies were published on the matter in the journals Science and Science Advances, noting that carbon-bearing, organic material is "widespread" on the surface of the asteroid.

Scientists want at least 60 grams but the spacecraft is capable of picking up as much as two kilograms, or five pounds. Experts are now trying to determine how much sample has been collected.

Captured on October 20 during the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of 2 images shows the SamCam imager's field of view at the moment before and after the NASA spacecraft touched down on asteroid Bennu's surface.

The asteroid was named after an Egyptian deity by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina in 2013 who won NASA's "Name that Asteroid" competition. The spacecraft will continue to climb Bannu for the rest of 2020 before embarking on a two-year voyage to return to Earth next year.

Indeed. Japan's Hayabusa rocket effectively returned little grains of the space rock 25143 Itokawa to Earth in 2010.

The tricky, or TAG, test assortment of space rock 101955 Bennu was regarded a triumph at around 3:12 p.m. PT. NASA broadcast the TAG move live on NASA TV and the office's site. Scientists say that Bennu is a very primitive meteorite, and with the information to be obtained from this meteorite, it can be understood what happened during the formation of the Earth and the Solar System.

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