NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft looks at “mess it made” on Bennu

The moment Osiris-Rex touched Bennu’s surface.

NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

In October 2020. NASA The Osiris-Rex spacecraft bit the asteroid Bennu. Before Osiris-Rex returned to Earth to give grace, it took a moment to revisit the robbery scene. The spacecraft took out the last one very close to Bennu on Wednesday to discover what NASA called the “scale of the mess.”

NASA said Osiris-Rex successfully completed the flight and spent nearly six hours filming the asteroid. “It will take at least April 13 for Osiris-Rex to drop all data and new images of Bennu’s surface taken during the passage of the flight,” NASA said in a statement Wednesday.

Osiris-Rex was a bit greedy during the sampling action, taking excessive amount of gravel it needed to be saved sooner than expected. He left a mark on the asteroid.

“The Osiris-Rex team decided to add this last overflight after Bennu’s surface was significantly disturbed by the sampling event,” NASA said. “During the touch, the spacecraft’s sampling head sank 48.8 centimeters into the asteroid’s surface and at the same time cracked the nitrogen gas charge under pressure.” Pushers firing in support of Osiris-Rex also disturbed the area.

The spacecraft jumped at a distance of only 3.5 kilometers from the asteroid’s surface, marking its closest approach since the samples were taken.

Osiris-Rex will continue to roam Bennu until May 10, when a two-year return journey back to Earth begins. Pieces of Bennu will be delivered to scientists via a sample return capsule ejected by the spacecraft.

Meanwhile, NASA will compare images before and after from the sample location to see how big a tattoo Osiris-Rex left on Bennu.

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