NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has arrived at the asteroid Bennu in December. The mission has been researching the surface in order to find the best spot to collect samples in 2020. This is the first NASA mission to come back with samples from an asteroid. They expect to receive the samples back on Earth in 2023. We know that Bennu is 70 million miles away from Earth, and that is has given us quite the surprises over the years. It is more rugged than we expected, so there are four potential sites where the spacecraft can tag Bennu. Scientists have thought about the safety and accessibility of each of the site.
The samples should be less than an inch in diameter
The asteroid is covered in boulders, and not in the large areas of fine-grain material, which is what scientists expected. For the spacecraft to bump the asteroid, and then send back the material to Earth, the sample should be less than an inch in diameter.
Scientists knew that Bennu would surprise them, so they got prepared for anything. As it goes with every mission of this kind, dealing with the unknown means flexibility, multiple resources, and time. The OSIRIS-REx team has shown that they have these essential traits for overcoming anything they have to deal with.
At first, the sample site was going to have a radius of about 82 feet, but there is no space on the asteroid of that size. Now, researchers are targeting sites between 16 and 33 feet in radius.
Even if OSIRIS-Rex was designed to collect samples from an asteroid, the performance shows that it will be able to also deal with the surface of Bennu. This was said by the project manager, whose name is Rich Burns of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This performance shows not only the spacecraft and the instruments, but also the team who has continued to deal with what Bennu has planned for us.
Sam is a freelance writer who has experience writing in the digital world for 4 years after he quit his job. Sam’s interests in current world affairs gave him the drive to pursue a career in journalism. Sam originates from Russia, lived in Canada for a short time between 2011 and 2013, then moved to New York to pursue his career.