Sunday , May 16 2021

NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft will look at “the mess it made”

The moment Osiris-Rex touched the surface of Bennu.

NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

In October 2020, NASA The Osiris-Rex spacecraft took a bite out of the asteroid Bennu. Before Osiris-Rex returns to Earth to deliver his reward, he will review the robbery scene. The spacecraft investigating the asteroids will make a final flyby of Bennu next Wednesday to discover “the extent of the mess it made.” NASA announced this last week.

Osiris-Rex was a bit greedy during the sampling operation, picking up one overflowing amount of gravel which had to be saved earlier than planned. He left a mark on the asteroid.

“The Osiris-Rex team decided to add this last overflight after the sample collection event significantly affected the Bennu surface,” NASA said. “During the touchdown, the spacecraft’s sampling head sank 48.8 centimeters from the asteroid’s surface and simultaneously fired a pressurized charge of nitrogen gas.” Propellers fired to remove Osiris-Rex also altered the surface.

NASA has scheduled the flyover for April 7 with the goal of capturing images from the collection site at a close distance of just 3.7 kilometers.

Osiris-Rex will continue to roam Bennu until May 10, when it will begin a two-year return trip to Earth. Bennu’s pieces will be delivered to the scientists using a sample return capsule abandoned by the spacecraft.

Meanwhile, NASA will have to compare the images before and after the sample site to see the size of a tattoo that Osiris-Rex left on Bennu.

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