The apparatus of the OSIRIS-REx approached the asteroid Bennu at a record close distance

Space Agency NASA is interested the study of near-earth asteroid Bennu for two reasons. First, it is potentially dangerous for our planet the object, and secondly, samples of soil can reveal the mysteries of the origin of the Solar system. The study of its surface is currently engaged in the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx, which at the beginning of June moved on to a new phase of its mission called Orbital B. In the framework of the unit was close to the asteroid at a record close distance is 680 meters.

Until now, none existed in the history of spacecraft wasn’t spinning around a small object at such a close distance. The previous record also belonged to the apparatus of the OSIRIS-REx — before the onset of the second stage of the mission, he was spinning at 1300-meter orbit. Being at a different distance from the object, it is important to perform a variety of actions, and if before the device is kept only capturing the surface, in low orbit, it will also be able to study the asteroid emitted particles.

Photo of asteroid Bennu close

In the first two weeks of stay at a distance of 680 metres the camera will periodically take photos that will help you to explore the mysterious nature of the particles emitted into space. With three of their cameras camera has already made the most detailed to date picture of the asteroid. Part of it is well-lit by the sun, so in the picture you can see craters, boulders and other objects up to 50 centimeters.

After examining the particles, the device will continue to take photos that will be used to create detailed maps of the asteroid. For the remaining weeks will be actively involved in such devices of the apparatus, such as a laser altimeter OLA, high-resolution camera PolyCam, spectrometer OTES to create an infrared maps and the REXIS instrument to generate x-ray maps.

Collection of soil samples from the asteroid Bennu

In mid-August, the unit will return to the previous 1300-metre orbit, and again engaged in the photographing surface. All this is done in order to determine the most appropriate place for the collection of ground in 2020. When candidates are left with only two, the device will drop the asteroid on the 225-metre distance and will be able to see objects 2 cm in size. Ideally, the planting site should be smooth and not have boulders.

NASA is not able to study all the pictures of the asteroid, so in March 2019 asked for help from Internet users. That is required from the enthusiasts, you can read in our material.

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