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NASA’s spacecraft leaves a mess after asteroid sampling

NASA's spacecraft leaves a mess after asteroid sampling

This combination of images from 2019 and 2021, provided by NASA, shows how Bennu’s local surface has changed since the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft took a sample of the asteroid on October 20, 2020. The earlier image, above, is made on March 7, 2019, and the bottom was taken on April 7, 2021 as part of the final observations to document the surface after sampling. The site of the Nightingale is located on a relatively clear section just above the center of the crater – visible in the center of the earlier image. The large dark stone, located in the center right, measures 13 feet (13 meters) along its longest axis. (NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona via AP)

A NASA spacecraft left a mess on an asteroid when it grabbed a pile of debris to return to Earth last year, new photos revealed on Thursday.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft last flew the asteroid Bennu on April 7 to take pictures of the concern left by the test collection in October.

A depression is seen where Osiris-Rex has penetrated the surface of the asteroid. The boulders were thrown by compressed nitrogen gas, which was fired into the ground to produce vacuum material, and by the spacecraft’s propulsion system. A 1-ton rock was thrown about 12 meters.

The Osiris-Rex team carefully plans the final flight to ensure the best shots. The photos were taken around noon to avoid shadows and to better see the changes on Bennu’s rocky surface.

“These observations were not in the original mission plan, so we were excited to go back and document what we did,” said Daton Golish of the University of Arizona.

Like lunar imprints, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft left its mark on the asteroid Bennu. Now, new images – taken during the spacecraft’s final overflight on April 7, 2021 – reveal the effects of the historic Touch-and-Go (TAG) acquisition event of October 20, 2020. Credits: Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA

Osiris-Rex will leave the vicinity of Benu next month and head back to Earth with his valuable test load of 2 kilograms (1 kilogram). It should arrive in 2023.

The carbon-rich asteroid’s solar orbit is 182 million miles (293 million kilometers) from Earth. By studying pieces of it, scientists hope to better understand how the planets of our solar system formed and how humans should react if an asteroid threatens Earth.

NASA's spacecraft leaves a mess after asteroid sampling

Bennu’s surface was disturbed in three different ways: by the force of the spaceship touching down; by a sampling mechanism that collects material by blowing gas into its collection filter; and four of the spacecraft’s remote pushers, which moved the spacecraft away from the sample site (marked with a red “X” in the second of these two images) and stirred dust and rocks on the surface. The image above shows the TAG site and highlights (red circle) a large stone thrown about 40 feet (about 12 meters). Credits: NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx completes the final orbit of the asteroid Bennu

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Quote: NASA spacecraft leaves a mess after asteroid sampling (2021, April 16), retrieved on April 16, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-nasa-spacecraft-mess- asteroid-samples.html

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