OSIRIS – Rex and NASA
What is the news?
After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived at the ancient asteroid Bennu. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 19 km of the diamond shaped space rock. The spacecraft will get even closer in the days ahead and actually go into orbit around Bennu on December 31.
Scientists are eager to study material from the carbon-rich asteroid, which could hold evidence dating back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
What is OSIRIS – REx?
- The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is a NASA asteroid study and sample-return mission.
Goal:- The mission’s goal is to obtain a small sample from asteroid Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid, and return the sample to Earth for detailed analysis.
- The material returned is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System, its initial stages of planet formation, and the source of organic compounds that led to the formation of life on Earth.
- If successful, OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. spacecraft to return samples from an asteroid.
When was it launched?
- OSIRIS-REx was launched on 8 September 2016.
- It is expected to return with its sample to Earth on 24 September 2023.
- It is the third planetary science mission selected in the New Frontiers program, after Junoand New Horizons.
About Bennu asteroid
- Bennuis a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on September 11, 1999.
- It is a potentially hazardous object.
- It has a cumulative 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175–2199.
- There is a well-defined ridge along the equator of asteroid Bennu.
- The presence of this ridge suggests that fine-grained regolith particles have accumulated in this area, possibly because of its low gravity and fast rotation.