The last time the US spacecraft OSIRIS-REx flew over the asteroid Bennu on Wednesday and slowly started moving away from the asteroid. The spacecraft conducted the flight to document changes to Benno’s surface due to soil sampling on October 20. According to Dante Loretta, Senior Researcher on the OSIRIS-REx mission:
NASA has published on its website: “By observing the distribution of the extracted material, we will learn more about the nature of the asteroid’s surface and the materials found underground.”
The last time the spacecraft flew for 5.9 hours, it was about 3.5 kilometers from Bennu, close to its surface, the closest since samples were taken from the asteroid’s surface with its 3.4-meter “arm” in October. It will take about a week to download the photos.
On board OSIRIS-REx, with samples collected, it has remained near Bennu to this day and returns to Earth in those minutes. It is scheduled to arrive with soil samples on September 24, 2023.
According to NASA researchers, who were discovered in September 1999, Bennu may have preserved building blocks from the time the solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago that may explain how life evolved on Earth and possibly elsewhere.
A carbon-rich celestial body, about 550 meters long, passes through Earth every six years and is considered by scientists to be a dangerous body on Earth. According to NASA experts, there is a 2700: 1 chance that the asteroid will collide with Earth at the end of the next century.
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