Science & Technology
29th Sep, 2023
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is preparing for the final phase of the OSIRIS-REx mission as the spacecraft is set to drop a capsule containing samples from the asteroid Bennu on Earth.
What OSIRIS-Rex Mission?
- Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) is an ongoing mission. It returned samples of asteroid Bennu to Earth in September 2023, and is now moving on to study asteroid Apophis in 2029.
- Brief Timeline:
- Launch: This ambitious asteroid-sampling mission was launched by NASA in 2016 for the journey to Bennu (near-Earth asteroid)
- It entered orbit around the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in 2018 before a brief touchdown on Oct. 20, 2020, where it retrieved a sample from the surface of the asteroid.
- OSIRIS-REx then delivered the sample back to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023, before heading off on an extended mission to study asteroid
- Significance: The mission aims to help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
Facts about Asteroid
- Asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the formation of the planets, and as such, they serve as rudimentary blueprints of the early solar system.
- Bennu is one of several thousand near-Earth objects orbiting within 120 million miles (190 million km) of Earth.
- Among those, Bennu was one of less than 200 objects whose orbit was well-known and sufficiently similar to Earth's orbit.
- This asteroid orbits the sun every 436 days and comes very close to Earth every six years.
- It was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.
- It is a B-type asteroid, implying that it contains significant amounts of carbon and various other minerals.
- Apophis is another potentially hazardous asteroid that was recently removed from the Sentry Impact Risk Table which keeps track of asteroids where an Earth impact cannot be ruled out.