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After 2-Year Journey, NASA Spacecraft Reaches Target Asteroid

After 2-Year Journey, NASA Spacecraft Reaches Target Asteroid

When OSIRIS-REx begins to orbit Bennu at the end of this month, it will come close to approximately three quarters of a mile (1.25 kilometers) to its surface.

With Bennu some 76 million miles (122 million kilometers) away, it took seven minutes for word to get from the spacecraft to flight controllers at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado. "We've been preparing for this moment for years, and we're ready".

Back at the University of Arizona, which is leading the mission, a crowd watching at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater broke into cheers. From 17 August through 27 November, the spacecraft's PolyCam camera imaged Bennu nearly daily as the spacecraft covered the remaining 2.2 million kilometers toward the asteroid. The final images were obtained from a distance of around 40 miles (65 km). Along the way, the spacecraft performed a flyby of Earth on September 22, 2017 for a gravity assist to place the craft on its final trajectory to Bennu.

NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is now just a few miles from a skyscraper-sized asteroid, Bennu, which has the potential to hit Earth in just over 150 years time.

Over the next year, OSIRIS-REx will survey the asteroid using five scientific instruments on board the spacecraft. The amount that the signal shifts will help determine how massive the asteroid is.

Let's start with destruction; scientists estimate there is a one-in-2,700 chance of the asteroid slamming catastrophically into Earth 166 years from now. Once this is known, it will be possible to investigate whether we could use this force to change the orbit of Bennu and other threatening asteroids.

The third camera is created to monitor the operation of the manipulator TAGSAM. Once the team knows how heavy Bennu is, OSIRIS-REx researcher Andrew French said, they can begin to guess at what it's made of on the inside-past the reach of OSIRIS-REx's arm. The images were taken from an animation released by the mission.

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How Will OSIRIS-REx Return a Sample to Earth?

With two years of flying already under its belt, expectations are high for the probe, but first NASA has to make sure it arrives safe and sound, and that's what today is all about. The spacecraft has been traveling through the solar system en route to its target Bennu for almost 27 months now and will stay about 12 miles away from the asteroid.

NASA will arrive at an asteroid called Bennu today (Dec. 3), kicking the space agency's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission into full gear. Early images show it looks like a "rubble pile". "There's a lot of boulders here; it's rough and rugged". That's where the CU Boulder team comes in.

But to dive into that past, OSIRIS-REx will first need to get close enough to Bennu to snag a sample of the loose, rocky material from its surface in 2020.

The thing that excites me most about the OSIRIS REx mission is the fact that we are literally going to a world that we've never been to before.

OSIRIS-REx is in no hurry. UA president Robert Robbins said space science missions were the school's version of winning the Heisman Trophy. Future space exploration and economic development may rely on asteroids for these materials.

How much do you expect to be able to bring back? .