NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Arrives at Asteroid Bennu
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday. The spacecraft executed a maneuver that transitioned it from flying toward Bennu to operating around the asteroid.
Now, at about 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) from Bennu’s Sun-facing surface, OSIRIS-REx will begin a preliminary survey of the asteroid. The spacecraft will commence flyovers of Bennu’s north pole, equatorial region, and south pole, getting as close as nearly 4 miles (7 kilometers) above Bennu during each flyover.
The primary science goals of this survey are to refine estimates of Bennu’s mass and spin rate, and to generate a more precise model of its shape. The data will help determine potential sites for later sample collection.
This image of Bennu was taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of around 50 miles (80 km).
Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona