On November 26, NASA successfully landed a landing pad on the surface of Mars. It seems that now you can take a break and mark the event. However, the agency staff are preparing for another important task - the arrival of the Benn asteroid.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft should approach Benn on December 3. The journey began in September 2016. 3 years have passed and the ship managed to get to the rock. The spacecraft is equipped with five instruments and will explore the asteroid for almost a year. Then OSIRIS-REx will select the most successful place for science and collect samples.
It is important to note that in this scenario the actions of the Japanese ship Hayabus-2 will not be repeated. That is, OSIRIS-REx does not plan to land on the asteroid Bennu. The ship will drop a small load on an inflatable cushion so that when it falls, the dust that OSIRIS-REx collects is “in the air”. On December 3, OSIRIS-REx will begin a detailed study of the asteroid, passing through its north and south poles, as well as the equator at a distance of 4.3 miles. This will determine the mass, rotational speed of the asteroid and generate its model. The mission cost $ 800 million, but it will not be considered completed until 2023, when OSIRIS-REx should return to Earth with asteroid samples received. Scientists believe that they will better understand how life began on Earth.
Moreover, there is a possibility that after 2175 Bennu will collide with the Earth. Therefore, it would be nice to prepare for the meeting. If OSIRIS-REx copes with all the tasks, then NASA will have another reason to celebrate, and researchers will receive precious samples of the cosmic rock that can shed light on the history of the formation of the solar system and life on Earth.