NASA Probe to Touch Down on Asteroid Bennu Next Month, Collect Samples

After a four-year journey, NASA’s robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx will descend to asteroid Bennu’s boulder-strewn floor on October 20, touching down for just a few seconds to gather rock and dirt samples, the company mentioned Thursday.

Scientists hope the mission will assist deepen our understanding of how planets shaped and life started and supply perception on asteroids that would affect Earth.

“Years of planning and laborious work by this crew are basically coming all the way down to placing the TAGSAM (Contact-And-Go Pattern Acquisition Mechanism) into contact with the floor for simply 5 to 10 seconds,” mentioned Mike Moreau, OSIRIS-REx deputy undertaking supervisor.

NASA has chosen a site called Nightingale, a rocky space 52 toes (16 meters) in diameter, for the spacecraft’s robotic arm to try to gather a pattern, as a result of it holds the best quantity of unobstructed fine-grained materials.

The spacecraft, concerning the dimension of a giant van, might want to contact down in an space concerning the dimension of some parking spots, taking care to keep away from surrounding boulders.

As a result of the spacecraft and Bennu might be roughly 207 million miles (334 million kilometres) from Earth, it is going to take about 18.5 minutes for alerts to journey between them. 

This prevents the dwell commanding of flight actions, so the spacecraft might want to carry out the sequence autonomously.

OSIRIS-REx is meant to gather at the very least 2 ounces (57 grams) of Bennu’s rocky materials to deliver again to Earth, the most important pattern return from area because the Apollo programme. 

It should ship its payload to Earth on September 24, 2023.

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