NASA spacecraft arrived at an asteroid!

NASA spacecraft arrived at an asteroid!

A photo of November 16th shows the asteroid Bennu. After a two-year flight, the NASA spacecraft reached the ancient asteroid and became its first visitor over billions of years. On December 3, the OSIRIS-REx apparatus entered Bennu orbit

After a 2-year voyage, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived on December 3 at the Bennu asteroid, becoming its first visitor over billions of years. It entrenched at a distance of 20 km and will approach until it reaches the working orbit around the asteroid on December 31. Never before has a spacecraft orbited such a small celestial body.

Mission controllers rejoiced and congratulated each other after confirming a successful arrival. This new victory added joy after the successful landing of a spacecraft on Mars a week ago.

Bennu is 130 million km distant, so it took 7 minutes to get a return signal. The asteroid is pulled out at 500 m. A more accurate description is expected next Monday. The spacecraft will spend two years near Bennu, after which it will extract samples and deliver them to Earth in 2023.

Scientists are interested to study material from a carbon-rich dark asteroid. The bottom line is that it is able to contain elements belonging to the period of the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. That is, we have a real space time capsule. Let's not forget that since June of this year, the Japanese apparatus Hayabusa-2 has been investigating Ryugu (twice as much as Bennu) and will also receive samples. He must deliver them to Earth in 2021. OSIRIS-REx seeks to collect at least 60 grams of dust and gravel on Bennu. But the spacecraft does not plan to land. In 2020, the controllers use a 3-meter mechanical arm to scoop up dust and instantly grab it in the “air”. In 2021, a container with samples will go home.

NASA has previously managed to deliver cometary dust and particles of the solar wind, but asteroids will be a new breakthrough. But Japan boasted samples in the first asteroid mission. It is important to note that Bennu and Ryugu are considered potentially dangerous asteroids. That is, once they are able to fall to Earth. In the worst case, Bennu will create a crater on our planet at the closest approach in 150 years.

The OSIRIS-REx mission was launched in 2016 from Cape Canaveral (Florida) and cost $ 800 million.

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