NASA has found its OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft to be orbiting the large asteroid Bennu to detect a slight disturbance in the rover the moment it nears Earth. The rover has mapped the asteroid’s rocky surface using its cameras and other necessary instruments so as to help find the correct spot for landing that is expected to happen by next year. The moment the landing position is chosen, OSIRIS-REx will kiss Bennu and collect the sample before it returns to Earth in 2023. The samples from Bennu are expected to modernize our understanding of asteroids, especially the ones that are closer to our planet and considered to be a threat. The space agency has made many discoveries including the recent explosion of particles from the asteroid’s surface.
No active asteroid has ever been closely observed but an astronomer Carl Hergenrother from the University of Arizona and the other scientist had proposed the asteroid to be a dead body and this notion is found to be changing. In January, the navigation cameras on OSIRIS-REx had spotted ejection events and the particles were found to form a cloud of gnats around Bennu. The spacecraft has since then captured many such ejection events on several occasions. The asteroid may not have a heated core necessary for geological activity but it is a zombie sneezing out small particles. A few particles orbit like a moon and return to the surface while the rest escape into the empty space. The extreme temperature changes or micrometeoroids are found to eject particles. Bennu still remains a mystery that the astronomers want to explore.
On a similar note, NASA had stated that it has found the potential landing sites on asteroid 101955 Bennu. There are 4 landing locations that the NASA mission planners have found for the Osiris-REX spacecraft’s touchdown. The Bennu team plans to collect 60 Grams of material for return to Earth. The four sites have been named Kingfisher, Osprey, Nightingale, and Sandpiper as a tribute to native birds of Egypt. The Osiris-REX team is going to start the survey of the four sites.