Touching The Asteroid Bennu Will Be Much Harder Than NASA Expected

Touching The Asteroid Bennu Will Be Much Harder Than NASA Expected

Touching The Asteroid Bennu Will Be Much Harder Than NASA Expected

OSIRIS-REX's digicam has noticed particles touring at more massive speeds coming into orbit across the asteroid, whereas some materials strike quick sufficient to escape Bennu completely, Lauretta stated. Scientists and engineers on the US -led OSIRIS-REx and the Japanese-led Hayabusa2 missions are having to scramble to adjust their sample acquisition plans now that the probes are at their destinations and finding unexpected environments.

But when OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in December, the mission team quickly realized that their vision of a smooth, beachy asteroid was a little off.

"We're going to try to meet that schedule", Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission, tells The Verge. "And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions".

Shortly after the discovery of the particle plumes on January 6, the mission science team increased the frequency of observations, and subsequently detected additional particle plumes during the following two months. Lauretta and his colleagues determined that the particles didn't pose a hazard to the spacecraft, and they're continuing to analyze the plumes and their possible causes. According to NASA, Bennu is proving much different than the team expected. Now, one of those crumbs is exploding: the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Samples from the asteroid, which are expected back on earth by 2023, will help us answer some of the biggest questions about where we come from, according to an official press release. Asteroids like Bennu are thought to be million- to billion-year-old relics preserved by the vacuum of space. Large rocks and boulders are peppered across Bennu's surface. However, most scientists think additional water was delivered in part by comets and pieces of asteroids, including water-bearing carbonaceous meteorites, Hamilton said. Instead, it discovered Bennu's entire surface is rough and dense with boulders. The large, light-colored boulder just below the center of the image is about 24 feet wide, which is roughly half the width of a basketball court. This means the planned Touch-and-Go (TAG) portion of the mission will need to be adjusted.

The probe was created to head for a flat area with a radius of 25 meters, but the images beamed back since December showed that there is no area that big which is free of boulders.

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The OSIRIS-REx team initially spotted the particle plumes in images while the spacecraft was orbiting Bennu at a distance of about one mile (1.61 kilometers).

A series of papers published this week report the early findings from the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu. These and future, higher-resolution spectral observations from OSIRIS-REx will provide vital context for analyzing the returned sample to evaluate the aqueous adjustment experienced by Bennu's parent body based on details of mineral distribution, abundance and composition.

"Asteroids like Ryugu are considered as a potential source of Earth's water, so we are expecting that our results and the future analysis of Ryugu samples would provide new insights about the origin of Earth's water", he said.

Bennu is the target of NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31 previous year.

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