NASA spacecraft enters orbits around the asteroid for a model return mission

A NASA spacecraft has stepped into an orbit around an old asteroid with a few records placed.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft landed on orbit around the asteroid Bennu, 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) from Earth on Monday.

It is the smallest celestial body ever circled by a spacecraft.

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The above animation shows our closest view of the space rock, showing Bennu in one complete rotation at about 50 miles away (80 km). It was caught in the course of four hours and 18 minutes

WHAT TO FIND NASA?

Data obtained from the two spectrometers of the spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), reveal the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms that are bound together, also well & # 39; hydroxyls & # 39; called. & # 39;

The team suspects that these hydroxyl groups occur globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals, which means that Bennot's rocky material interacted with water at one point.

Although Bennu itself is too small to ever receive liquid water, the finding does indicate that at some point liquid water was on Bennu's parent body, a much larger asteroid.

Bennu is only 1,600 feet (500 meters) wide.

The laps of the spacecraft are barely 1.6 kilometers above the surface of the asteroid, another record.

NASA & # 39; s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered that water is trapped deep inside the asteroid and hopes to bring a monster back to Earth.

The spaceship finally arrived at asteroid Bennu last month, more than two years after the firing of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Now NASA says it has taken the right decision & # 39; to choose his goal.

• Recently analyzed data from NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REX) mission have uncovered water in the clays that make up the scientific target, the asteroid Bennu, & # 39; ; according to NASA.

& # 39; The presence of hydrated minerals over the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant of early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organic substances , & # 39; said Amy Simon, OVIRS vice instrument scientist at NASA & # 39; s Goddard Space Flight Center at Greenbelt, Maryland.

& # 39; When samples of this material are returned to earth by the mission in 2023, scientists will receive a wealth of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system.

Although Bennu itself is too small to ever receive liquid water, the finding does indicate that at some point liquid water was on Bennu's parent body, a much larger asteroid.

During the initial phase of the mission, between mid-August and early December, the spacecraft traveled 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km) on its journey from Earth to a location 19 km from Bennu on 3 December.

During this time the science team on Earth directed three instruments from the spacecraft at Bennu and began making the first scientific observations of the asteroid mission.

OSIRIS-REx is NASA's first asteroid sample return mission.

Data obtained from the two spectrometers of the spacecraft, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), reveal the presence of molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms that are bound together, also well & # 39; hydroxyls & # 39; called. & # 39;

The team suspects that these hydroxyl groups occur globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals, which means that Bennot's rocky material interacted with water at one point.

NASA & # 39; s OSIRIS-REX spacecraft has finally arrived at asteroid Bennu more than two years after the divestment of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The above animation shows the approach of the vessel of the object, starting on August 17 when it was more than 1,300,000 miles from Bennu to November 27 when it was only 40 miles away

Although Bennu itself is too small to ever receive liquid water, the finding does indicate that at some point liquid water was on Bennu's parent body, a much larger asteroid.

An outlier of the predicted shape model is the size of the large rock near the south pole of Bennu.

The basic form model calculated that this rock should be at least 33 feet (10 meters) high.

Preliminary calculations from OCAMS observations show that the stone is closer to 50 feet (164 feet) in height, with a width of about 180 feet (55 meters).

Bennu's surface material is a mix of very rocky, boulder-filled areas and a few relatively smooth areas without boulders.

However, the amount of boulders on the surface is greater than expected.

OSIRIS-REx will spend the following year in orbit around its target before it falls down, so that it can get close enough to lift a sample of dirt and stone from the surface.

HOW WILL THE NASIRIS OSIRIS REX MISSION SAMPLE TAKE PLACE FROM A ASTEROID WORK?

Osiris-Rex is the first American mission designed to bring a piece of asteroid to Earth.

Scientists say that the old asteroid could contain clues about the origin of life.

It is thought that it was formed 4.5 billion years ago, a remnant of the building blocks of the solar system.

The spacecraft was launched on board an Atlas V rocket on September 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm EST.

After a careful investigation by Bennu to characterize the asteroid and to locate the most promising sample locations, Osiris-Rex collects between 2 and 70 ounces (approximately 60 to 2,000 grams) of surface material with its robotic arm and sends the sample back to earth via a detachable capsule in 2023.

In order to catch samples on the surface, the vessel floats over a certain area and becomes 'very slow and soft'. speed of 10 centimeters per second down.

The spacecraft will also carry a laser altimeter, a series of cameras supplied by the University of Arizona, spectrometers and lidar, similar to radar, with light instead of radio waves to measure the distance.

& # 39; Our first data show that the team has chosen the right asteroid as the target of the OSIRIS-REx mission. So far, we have not found any insurmountable problems at Bennu, "said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

& # 39; The spacecraft is healthy and the scientific instruments work better than required. It is time for our adventure to start. & # 39;

& # 39; We have arrived, & # 39; announced technicians, encouraged high-fives and clapped in the control room.

Only a few days ago, Osiris-Rex flexed his mechanical arm for the first time in space before reaching Bennu through a full range of motion; eventually this instrument will be used to pick a regolith sample from the surface to bring back home.

The vessel has now covered more than one billion miles since its launch in September 2016.

The ultimate goal of Osiris-Rex is to reduce a regolith sample of at least 2.1 grams. It will first examine the surface of the asteroid for a year, before a safe and scientifically interesting & # 39; choose a location to boast some stones.

If all goes well, the spacecraft will return the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Osiris-Rex has sent back photos during his trip and reveals a glimpse of the distant target and even our own planet from millions of miles away.

In August, the vessel broke its first image of asteroid Bennu.

Although the blurry snapshot may not look that great, the first sight was the closest we've reached so far in the space rock, 1.4 million miles away.

The plane also captured a glimpse of the earth and the moon in their "orbital dance & # 39; in January.

Asteroid Bennu, which Osiris-Rex will study in the coming years, would be a carbon-rich cairn that could contain organic materials or molecular precursors.

  NASA reported live on his arrival at 11:45 ET, shortly before the spacecraft began the 20-second fire that put it on the correct trajectory around the asteroid. Artist & # 39; s impression

NASA reported live on his arrival at 11:45 ET, shortly before the spacecraft began the 20-second fire that put it on the correct trajectory around the asteroid. Artist & # 39; s impression

Osiris-Rex captured a & # 39; super resolution & # 39; View of asteroid Bennu on October 29, 2018. The photo was taken using eight images obtained by the spacecraft at a distance of about 205 miles (330 kilometers)

Osiris-Rex created a & # 39; super resolution & # 39; rendering (left) of asteroid Bennu on October 29, 2018. The photo was taken with eight images of the spacecraft at a distance of about 330 kilometers (330 kilometers)

• Analyzing a sample from Bennu will help planetary scientists to better understand what role asteroids may have played in administering life-forming compounds to the earth & nbsp ;, NASA explains.

We know that we have studied Bennu through Earth-based telescopes and from space that it is a carbonaceous or carbon-rich asteroid. Carbon is the hinge on which organic molecules hang.

Bennu is probably rich in organic molecules, which are made from carbon chains bound with oxygen atoms, hydrogen and other elements in a chemical recipe that makes all known living creatures.

In addition to carbon, Bennu may have another component that is important for life: water that is trapped in the minerals that make up the asteroid. & # 39;

The large binocular telescope observatory at Mount Graham in Arizona saw Osiris-Rex (red) in September 2017, about a year after it was launched

This photo from September 11, 2016 shows a top floor of the Centaur lifted at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida where it was attached to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket first stage booster, with OSIRIS-REx

This photo from September 11, 2016 shows a top floor of the Centaur lifted at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida where it was attached to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket first stage booster, with OSIRIS-REx

Once Osiris is ready to collect a sample, it will fall closer to Bennu and hover over the surface like a hummingbird, with only the mechanical arm getting close enough to the asteroid.

The Touch-and-Go sample acquisition mechanism (TAGSAM) sucks up the regolith, gets kicked by its nitrogen gas thrusters and hopefully collects enough to study at home.

Scientists estimated the asteroid about 4.5 billion years ago.

"Bennu is a leftover fragment of the tumultuous formation of the solar system", says NASA.

& # 39; Some mineral fragments in Bennu may be older than the solar system. These microscopic dust grains can be the same that spewed out of dying stars and eventually merged to make the Sun and its planets nearly 4.6 billion years ago. & # 39;

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