Thursday , June 24 2021

NASA asteroid-sampled spacecraft to look into ‘chaos it created’

The moment Osiris-Rex touches Bennu’s surface.

NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

In October 2020, NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft received a bite from asteroid Bennu. Osiris-Rex will revisit the heist scene before returning to Earth to deliver his prize. The spacecraft exploring the asteroid will make a very close final flight of Bennu on Wednesday to discover “the extent of its mess”. NASA announced on Thursday.

Osiris-Rex was a bit greedy during the sample capture process, and a amount of gravel overflowing it had to be stacked earlier than expected. It left a trail in the asteroid.

“The Osiris-Rex team decided to add this final overpass after Bennu’s surface was significantly disturbed by the sample collection event,” NASA said. “During landing, the spacecraft’s sampling head sank 1.6 feet (48.8 centimeters) to the surface of the asteroid and simultaneously fired a pressurized nitrogen gas charge.” Thrusters that shot to repel Osiris-Rex also disturbed the surface.

NASA planned the plane for April 7 to capture footage of the collection site from a distance of just 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers).

Osiris-Rex will continue to hang out at Bennu until May 10, when it begins a two-year return journey to Earth. Bennu’s fragments will be delivered to scientists via a Sample Return Capsule launched by the spacecraft.

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

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