NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Flew Just 820-Feet Above Asteroid Bennu's Surface (Photo Credit: Twitter/@OSIRISREx)
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is getting closer and closer to asteroid Bennu. Yes, you read it right. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft flew just 820 feet, or 250 meters, above Bennu's surface on Tuesday. It is to be noted that Osiris-Rex, which last fall spotted an unexpected black hole located 30,000 light-years away, has also located water on Bennu.
In January 2020, NASA executed a 620-metre flyover of Nightingale, a site located within a crater high in asteroid Bennu's northern hemisphere. This came at least a month after NASA selected site for a sample collection from asteroid Bennu.
Who’s ready for tomorrow's low-altitude flyover of site Nightingale? Observations will take place from a distance of 820 ft (250 m). The goal is to collect high-resolution imagery of the site so that the team can locate the best areas for collecting a sample. pic.twitter.com/Z5PZ5zrX3X— NASA's OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) March 2, 2020
NASA had then said, "OSIRIS-REx's primary goal in the Nightingale flyover was to collect the high-resolution imagery required to complete the spacecraft's Natural Feature Tracking image catalog." "This catalogue will document the sample collection site's surface features like boulders and craters," it added.
NASA further stated that in August, when the spacecraft would collect samples from Nightingale, it would use this catalog to navigate with respect to Bennu's surface features. “Using the catalogue, the spacecraft would autonomously predict where on the sample site it will make contact,” the US space agency said.
It is worth mentioning here that NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu in the year 2018 and since then the US space agency is studying space rock.
Asteroid 101955 Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999. It has a mean diameter of approximately 492 metres (the size of the Empire State building) and it may collide with our planet in 2135. The gigantic asteroid has an estimated weight of 79 billion kilograms.