This is the OSIRIS-REx apparatus that hunts the Bennu asteroid. This rocky remnant is the key to finding the origins of life. On September 22, the probe used Earth gravity to redirect its way to the asteroid.
On September 22, the ship OSIRIS-REx shook earth gravity in order to enter the path to the asteroid Bennu.
The device started a year ago and this Friday took place at a distance of 17237 km from the Earth (above Antarctica). Earth gravity served as a slingshot to choose the shortest path to the goal. Next year, OSIRIS-REx should arrive at Ben, and in 2020, collect samples for return to the planet. If everything goes well, then in 2023 we will meet him at home.
Friday span was a swift greeting: speed increased to 31,000 km / h. NASA took all the security measures to prevent OSIRIS-REx from crashing into orbital satellites. Ground-based telescopes watched the flight of the apparatus while it was nearby. Scientific instruments turned on 4 hours after the nearest approach. Now they will be tested for the next 2 weeks, scanning our planet and moon.
Asteroid Bennu is pulled out by 500 m and bypasses the Sun in an orbit slightly higher than that of the Earth. Bennu will approach the object and circle around it until he finds the best point to work with. Mechanical hand briefly rests on the surface and takes samples.
This is an important body that can explain exactly how life came about. Formed 4.5 billion years ago.