Enlarged image of Bennu in the new span of OSIRIS-REx

Enlarged image of Bennu in the new span of OSIRIS-REx

The image of the Bennu asteroid is derived from an animation made by the NavCam 1 camera on NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and offering a view of the asteroid from November 30 to December 31, 2018

A new series of photos of the asteroid Bennu shows how the diamond-shaped space rock is approaching the camera and moving away during the triple passage of the NASA OSIRIS-spacecraft.

The vehicle arrived at the asteroid on December 3. He used preflight flights to go into orbit on December 31st. OSIRIS-REx has an ambitious goal - to extract material on an asteroid, and deliver the sample to Earth for analysis. But before descending, the ship must send photographs, data and other information in order to find a place for a safe landing.

Before that, the problem seemed to be entering orbit. In December, OSIRIS-REx conducted preliminary studies, flying three times around the north pole, once around the equator and the south pole. The collected data allowed Bennu to more accurately estimate the mass in order to make the correct entry into orbit. Photos obtained NavCam 1 - black and white rendering system on OSIRIS-REx. This is one of three cameras that are crucial for navigation and control in the coming months. The orbital maneuver of OSIRIS-REx was a record, because it is the smallest body around which the spacecraft ever rotated.

Bennu's width reaches 500 m. The device also approached the closest orbit - 1.6 km from the surface. OSIRIS-REx was launched in September 2016 to help researchers understand the formation of the early solar system, including carbon-rich asteroids that could deliver water to the Earth’s surface and activated the birth of life.

The probe should return to Earth in September 2023, landing in the desert of Utah. Samples are planned to be produced in mid-2020.

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