Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
  1. Amazon Gift Card Promotion
    14:41 Deals

    Amazon’s giving away $15 credits, but this is your last chance to get one

  2. Best Memory Foam Mattress
    12:31 Deals

    When 75,000 Amazon shoppers rave about a $130 memory foam mattress, you need to check it o…

  3. Control Garage Door With iPhone
    08:10 Deals

    Unreal deal gets you Amazon’s hottest smart home gadget for $23 – plus a $40 c…

  4. Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum
    16:11 Deals

    Amazon coupon slashes our favorite self-emptying robot vacuum to its lowest price ever

  5. Best Amazon Finds 2021
    08:49 Deals

    5 must-have Amazon devices you might’ve never even heard of




HomeScienceNews

Nobody knows if NASA’s OSIRIS-REx can pull off its daring asteroid-sampling maneuver

March 22nd, 2019 at 7:05 PM
bennu mission sample

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft first arrived at the large space rock known as Bennu late last year, and it’s spent the first few months of 2019 observing its new space companion and teaching NASA more about the rock’s surface. Unfortunately for NASA engineers, the asteroid’s surface is nothing like what they assumed it would be, and that poses a serious challenge going forward.

The OSIRIS-REx mission includes multiple objectives, with the first being the successful insertion of the spacecraft into orbit around the rock itself. NASA nailed it and things seemed to be great, or at least until scientists got a good look at Bennu’s surface. As Sky & Telescope reports, it has complicated matters greatly.

With limited capability to observe the asteroid from Earth or in-flight towards the rock, scientists believed the asteroid would be fairly smooth. A smooth surface would make the spacecraft’s final maneuver — and up-close-and-personal sample retrieval — a lot less risky, but that’s not what Bennu had in store.

Bennu is, to put it simply, an absolute mess. The asteroid is covered in debris of all sizes, ranging from dust and small rocks to massive boulders and everything in between. This poses a massive challenge for sample collection since the spacecraft will have to avoid obstacles as it inches its way towards the space rock’s surface.

The plan has always been for OSIRIS-REx to remain in orbit around Bennu for around a year, making observations of its surface and relaying data and images back to its handlers on Earth. However, with its rubble-covered surface now posing a threat to its most anticipated action, NASA will need to work diligently to find a safe place on the asteroid for the spacecraft to gather a sample before leaving Bennu and returning home. It they can pull it off, it’ll be a monumental achievement.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.




Popular News