On Tuesday, a NASA spacecraft, OSIRIS-REX, will attempt to touch the asteroid, Benue, and suck up some rocks and dirt. If it succeeds, it will bring those materials back to Earth for study again, potentially uncovering secrets that were like the solar system when it first formed 4.5 billion years ago.
“The asteroids are like time capsules floating in space, which could provide a fossil record of the birth of our solar system,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Department of Planetary Sciences, said during a news conference on Monday.
Many asteroids – including Beanu – cross Earth’s orbit and may someday hit our planet. A better understanding of these space rocks, which come in many types, can bend humanity’s ability to bang on Earth.
What is the OSIRIS-REX mission?
OSIRIS-REX Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Resolith Explorer are lacking.
Dent Loretta, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona who is the mission’s lead investigator, came up with the name. He said that as he referred to the themes of scientific purpose – origin, spectroscopy, resources, and security – he had most of the letters of Osiris, the Egyptian god who was the lord of the underworld but who made the seeds of regression for the new Life was also represented. He kept playing with the name until he got the abbreviation he wanted.
The robot spacecraft launched in September 2016 and reached Bennu in December 2018. Since then, it has been observing the asteroid, even stating that it was shooting debris from its surface in space. The investigation made some rehearsal in preparation for Tuesday’s attempt to collect sample from the surface.
When will the spacecraft touch, and how can I follow it?
OSIRIS-REX will begin its steady approach toward the asteroid’s surface on Tuesday around 1:50 pm Eastern Time. It is going to do its own touch-and-go collection of sample Benu at 6:12 pm
Shortly before noon, mission controllers on Earth dispatched orders to the spacecraft that would initiate its descent toward the asteroid.
The mission will provide a visual simulation of the approach starting at 1:20 pm on its website AsteroidMission.org. From 5 pm, NASA Television will broadcast coverage of the sample collection effort from Mission Control at the Lockheed Martin space in Littleton, Colto.
At 5pm on Wednesday, the space agency is scheduled to hold a news conference, also broadcast on NASA television, to discuss how the sampling effort went and release close-up images of Benue.
Why did NASA choose to study Bennu?
Bennu, discovered in 1999, is a carbon-rich asteroid that is almost black in color. It is about 1,600 feet wide. It is 1,454 feet taller than the Empire State Building with an antenna at the top. Carbon-rich material is intriguing because asteroids such as Beanu may irrigate the Earth with building blocks for life.
In a series of papers published in Science Journal this month, scientists revealed what they had learned about Benue so far. They found carbonate minerals in some of the geological features of the asteroid, which typically form in environments that include both hot water and carbon dioxide. This suggests that Benue’s large body was once part of hot springs or some other type of extensive hydrothermal system.
Scientists also mentioned two main types of boulders on Benue. One is dark and rough; The other is less common, brighter and smoother. Those differences may reflect that they formed at different depths on the original object of Benue, and hint at its geological character.
For other reasons, he chose to study Benu that it might hit our planet someday.
Will the asteroid crash into the Earth?
Bennu is classified as an asteroid near the Earth, and scientists say that there is a small chance it can rotate in the Earth. But even if that happens, generations to come will take time to get ready.
Benue would make a series passing very close to the Earth between 2175 and 2199.
“The chance that Bennu will affect Earth is only one in 2,700,” Andrea Riley, program executive of an upcoming NASA mission known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test.
If 22nd century humans became inauspicious and forgot that Beanu was coming, then the asteroid is not the cause of planet-wide extinction. But it would be disastrous at the point of impact.
Where will the spacecraft touch the asteroid?
When OSIRIS-REX arrived in Beanu, mission planners were surprised at what they found.
Almost the entire surface of the asteroid is scattered along the boulder, where scientists had hoped to find smooth patches where the spacecraft could easily take some samples. Therefore mission planners had to search long and hard for a safe enough space.
In December, he finally chose Nightingale, a location inside a pit near the North Pole of Benue. The spacecraft, about 20 feet wide and about the size of a sport utility vehicle, must navigate carefully to the target site, which is only 26 feet in diameter. In addition, it will avoid a wall of rocks on the eastern side of the crater. It has a pointed pillar, named Mount Doom, which is as tall as a two or three-story building.
However, despite the risks, the nightingale offers the greatest possible scientific payoff, with unabsorbed non-grained material in which carbon-rich minerals are found.
The original mission timeline attempted to set a sample to be held in July. But the rigor of selecting the landing site, as well as coronavirus outbreaks, contributed to the delays in October.