First discovered in September 1999, the Bennu asteroid quickly gained almost unprecedented prominence among space rocks. Space agencies, including NASA, are closely monitoring the rocky space rock for two reasons. It is hoped that the ancient asteroid will inform scientists about the formation of life on Earth. Even more intriguing, Bennu has an approximately 1 in 2,700 chance of hitting the planet between 2175 and 2199 – making it the second most dangerous space rock known.
For these reasons, NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) will attempt to receive and return a sample from a near-Earth asteroid.
And NASA has just announced that it has selected the final four candidates on the site there for an ambitious asteroid return attempt. [
Since arriving at the asteroid in December 201
NASA originally planned to select the last two sites from that point in the mission.
However, the earliest OSIRIS-REx images revealed that the Bennu asteroid has a particularly rocky terrain.
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Since then, the topography, filled with asteroid stones, has created a challenge for material to be identified, identified, of specimens, which must be sufficiently fine – less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter – to absorb the spacecraft's sampling mechanism.
Dante Laurereta, NASA OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator, said: "We knew Ben would surprise us, so we were preparing for everything we could find.
" The OSIRIS-REx team demonstrated these basic features to overcome the unexpected throughout the meeting with Bennu. "
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The NASA OSIRIS-REx mission will now spend another four months analyzing the four candidate sites in detail, with particular emphasis on ide
The original mission plan provides an example site of 82 feet (25 m) radius ).
But such stone-free sites of this size do not exist in Bennu, so NASA instead targets sites 16 to 3 feet (5 to 10 m) in size.
The four candidates for exemplary sites in Bennu are designated as Nightingale, Kingfisher, Sprayer and Sandstone – all birds native to Egypt.
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The naming theme complements the other two naming conventions4 – 19654 NASA said in a statement: "The last of these species, the saxum, is a new feature classification introduced by the International Astronomical Union earlier this year for small rocky asteroids such as Rugu and Bennu.
"These superficial characteristics of Ben will be named after mythological birds and bird-like creatures, complementing the existing theme of the naming mission that is rooted in Egyptian mythology."