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Farewell, Bennu! NASA spacecraft leaves asteroid to bring pieces of space rock to Earth
The OSIRIS-REx probe began heading home today (May 10), kicking off a 1.4-billion-mile (2.3 billion kilometers) journey that will culminate with the touchdown of its sample capsule in the Utah desert in September 2023.space.com
NASA probe leaving asteroid Bennu in May to deliver samples to Earth
NASA's asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx probe will spend two extra months at its target space rock before heading back to Earth. OSIRIS-REx snagged lots of dirt and rock from the 1,640-foot-wide (500 meters) near-Earth asteroid Bennu in October 2020 — so much stuff, in fact, that the probe's sample collector was literally overflowing . The spacecraft's collector head penetrated 1.6 feet (48.8 centimeters) into the asteroid, Lauretta said. OSIRIS-REx may have yet more work to do after wrapping up the farewell tour and dropping the Bennu samples off here on Earth. "This could be a rendezvous mission," Lauretta said.space.com
NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe could make a 2nd stop at infamous asteroid Apophis
Hot on the heels of successfully snagging hunks of space rock in October, the scientists behind NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission are contemplating sending the spacecraft to study a second asteroid in 2029, this time the infamous Apophis. But when [the OSIRIS-REx mission designer] came back and said we could put the spacecraft into orbit around a second large near-Earth asteroid, I was really excited." Bennu and Apophis belong to different asteroid families with similar structures, and OSIRIS-REx was designed to create incredibly detailed portraits of large space rocks. "Those surprised us so much at Bennu," Lauretta said. "One of the hypotheses is that this is due to micrometeoroids impacting the asteroid," Lauretta said.space.com
NASA asteroid probe stows space-rock sample for return to Earth
The left image shows OSIRIS-REx’s collector head hovering over the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) after the probe’s robotic arm moved it into the proper position for capture. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)NASA's pioneering OSIRIS-REx probe has bagged up its precious asteroid sample for return to Earth. It's unclear exactly how much asteroid material now sits in OSIRIS-REx's return capsule, which will come down to Earth in September 2023. (Moving the arm — to photograph the sample and conduct the stow operation, for example — imparted grain-liberating acceleration, mission team members explained. But there's definitely a lot of asteroid material on board, said mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona.space.com
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is tucking away precious asteroid samples for safekeeping
The agency's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touched down on an asteroid named Bennu on Oct. 20 and puffed nitrogen gas at the space rock to blow pieces into the arm's sampling head before backing away to safety. Related: OSIRIS-REx: NASA's asteroid sample-return mission in picturesSo, in a procedure that's become familiar for the OSIRIS-REx team, the mission's scientists and engineers reevaluated their plans. But without the flap fully closed, that spin would result in the spacecraft losing more space rock. The process will tuck the spacecraft's sampling head securely into its sample return capsule for safe travel to Earth. An artist's depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft stowing its sampling head.space.com
Success! OSIRIS-REx Captures a “Large Amount” of Asteroid Material
Quoting NASA, it’s a “large amount!” The spacecraft captured images of the sample collector head as it moved through several different positions. They came to this conclusion after comparing images of the empty collector head with Oct. 22 images of the TAGSAM head after the sample collection event. The OSIRIS-Rex team will now focus on stowing the sample in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), where any loose material will be kept safe during the spacecraft’s journey back to Earth. Newly available analyses show that the collector head was flush with Bennu’s surface when it made contact and when a nitrogen gas bottle was fired to stir surface material. All data so far suggest that the collector head is holding much more than two ounces of regolith.
NASA asteroid probe is overflowing with space-rock samples
Analysis by the OSIRIS-REx team suggests that bits of material are passing through small gaps where the head’s mylar flap is slightly wedged open. The mission's chief goal is to deliver at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of pristine Bennu material to Earth. The jailbreak was spurred when OSIRIS-REx moved TAGSAM around to get a look at the collected sample, Lauretta said. But that operation would doubtless have liberated more asteroid particles, so mission team members now plan to proceed directly to sample stowage. Japan's Hayabusa probe returned small grains of the stony asteroid Itokawa in 2010, and its successor, Hayabusa2, is hauling a sample of the carbon-rich asteroid Ryugu Earthward now.space.com
NASA's first attempt to sample an asteroid in space made a mess. It's the best mess ever, scientists say.
A NASA spacecraft has really made a mess of things on the asteroid Bennu, and scientists are thrilled. Two images taken by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft show the sampling arm touch the surface of asteroid Bennu. The views from OSIRIS-REx showed a successful touchdown, a puff of rocky particles and a smooth departure from the asteroid Bennu. Mission scientists are hoping to collect 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of asteroid Bennu for return to Earth. A series of 16 images show the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's view of its sampling maneuver on asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020.space.com
NASA touches an asteroid: What to know about OSIRIS-REx mission
Tuesday evening marked another NASA milestone: A spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx touched an asteroid, called Bennu, and collected a sample for return to Earth! Over the past year, OSIRIS-REx has been orbiting Bennu and taking increasingly detailed images to find a site. When the mission was originally developed, it was assumed that Bennu would be mostly smooth, with lots of regolith (“dirt”) and perhaps some rocks. How does NASA know if they collected enough material to return to Earth? This is pretty cool science: once back in orbit around Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will extend the TAGSAM arm laterally out to the side of the spacecraft and spin the spacecraft.
NASA spacecraft makes historic attempt to snag samples of asteroid Bennu
For the first time ever, a NASA probe has performed a sample-snagging operation on an asteroid in deep space. Members of NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission team celebrate after receiving word that the probe completed an attempt to collect samples of asteroid Bennu 207 million miles from Earth on Oct. 20, 2020. Related: NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sampling mission in picturesAn artist's depiction of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaching asteroid Bennu for its sampling attempt. The asteroid Bennu, as seen by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Dec. 2, 2018. The OSIRIS-REx team will spend the next week or so assessing how much asteroid material was collected.space.com
NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx touches the asteroid Bennu in historic attempt to return samples
A rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. NASAA NASA spacecraft on Tuesday touched the surface of the asteroid Bennu, in a mission that aims to return rocky pieces for examination on Earth in 2023. Called OSIRIS-REx – an acronym that stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer – the NASA spacecraft represents the culmination of years of work. Tagging the asteroidAn image of the asteroid Bennu taken by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft undergoes testing before launching in 2016.cnbc.com
US spacecraft touches asteroid surface for rare rubble grab
This undated image made available by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. After almost two years circling the ancient asteroid, OSIRIS-REx will attempt to descend to the treacherous, boulder-packed surface and snatch a handful of rubble on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. “Sampling is in progress.”Confirmation came from the Osiris-Rex spacecraft as it made contact with the surface of the asteroid Bennu more than 200 million miles away. Bennu’s gravity was too low for the spacecraft to land — the asteroid is just 1,670 feet (510 meters) across. Japan expects samples from its second asteroid mission — in the milligrams at most — to land in the Australian desert in December.
See how NASA's OSIRIS-REx will sample asteroid Bennu in this 360-degree video
Today, NASA will attempt to grab tiny pieces of an asteroid called Bennu — and to mark the occasion, the agency has created a 360-degree video that will take you along for the ride. And, as NASA's 360-degree video makes clear, sampling is an ambitious endeavor. Related: NASA is about to play 'tag' with asteroid Bennu: Here's how it works. After OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in 2018, its data proved that the asteroid is much rockier than scientists had suspected from more distant observations. Visit Space.com today for complete coverage of NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sampling attempt at Bennu.space.com
NASA's OSIRIS-REx will play 'tag' with asteroid Bennu to collect samples today. But will it succeed?
Update for 6:58 pm ET: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully performed its asteroid Bennu sample-collection attempt, though it will take up to 10 days to determine if samples were actually captured. OSIRIS-REx: NASA's asteroid sample-return mission in picturesNASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of the Nightingale site on asteroid Bennu, on April 29, 2020. This image shows sample site Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site on asteroid Bennu. At Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx will spend about 15 seconds attempting to gather material before rising into space again, Buck added. This artist's concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending toward asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid's surface.space.com
NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe will snag a piece of an asteroid Tuesday! Here's how to watch.
Update for Oct. 20, 6:58 pm ET: NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully performed its asteroid Bennu sample-collection attempt, though it will take up to 10 days to determine if samples were actually captured. The events start today (Oct. 19) with a series of preview briefings by scientists with the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu. They begin at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) and run throughout the day, covering the mission's science, planetary defense against asteroids and more. You can watch it all here and on the Space.com homepage, courtesy of NASA TV. Participants will be able to interact with fellow space enthusiasts, virtually tour the asteroid and receive a NASA Social badge, among other activities, NASA said.space.com
Boulders on asteroid Bennu shed new light on the space rock's history
The near-Earth asteroid Bennu continues to reveal its secrets to NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, which has been orbiting the space rock for nearly two years. New research reveals veins of carbonite materials in Bennu's boulders, as well as signs of organic minerals widespread across its surface. Video: Asteroid Bennu - Up close and personal in new NASA tourRelated: OSIRIS-REx: NASA's asteroid sample-return mission in picturesNASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of one of asteroid Bennu's boulders with a bright vein that appears to be made of carbonate. An OSIRIS-REx view of the surface of the asteroid Bennu, with insets enlarging strangely bright rocks that scientists suggest are pieces of the large asteroid Vesta. Related: Eruptions on asteroid Bennu hint at causes of space rock explosionsYoung and oldBennu's rubble-pile formation gives it a top-like shape.space.com
Surprise! Asteroid Bennu sports pieces of another space rock
Pieces of the asteroid Vesta somehow made their way to a much smaller world, the space rock Bennu, which is currently hosting a NASA spacecraft. The finding also reveals information about Bennu's violent past, when the asteroid formed from the pieces of a huge collision. An OSIRIS-REx view of the surface of the asteroid Bennu, with insets enlarging strangely bright rocks that scientists suggest are pieces of the large asteroid Vesta. While spotting pieces of Vesta on Bennu sounds like hitting the cosmic lottery, it's actually not so unusual to see pieces of one asteroid on another's surface. Scientists are curious as to why pieces of Vesta have shown up on Bennu, but why no other asteroid types have been found on Bennu.space.com
NASA gearing up for epic asteroid-sampling maneuver next month
The OSIRIS-REx probe is scheduled to pull off NASA's first-ever asteroid-sampling operation on Oct. 20, snagging precious dirt and gravel from a 1,640-foot-wide (500 meters) space rock called Bennu. (The OSIRIS-REx team has nicknamed the most perilous of those obstacles "Mt. OSIRIS-REx will then back slowly and carefully away from Bennu, and the mission team will assess its catch. Related: Pieces of heaven: A brief history of sample-return missionsNASA's OSIRIS-REx mission's view of the asteroid Bennu on Aug. 11, 2020, during a rehearsal for the spacecraft's sampling maneuver this fall. After all, asteroids are "time capsules" left over from the planet-formation epoch, NASA officials have stressed.space.com
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aces asteroid-sampling dress rehearsal
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is getting ready to scoop a sample of asteroid Bennu, has successfully completed a partial dress rehearsal for its historic trip to the asteroid's surface. On Tuesday (April 14), during what NASA calls a "checkpoint rehearsal," OSIRIS-REx got closer to Bennu's surface than ever before while practicing the sample collection process. Video: OSIRIS-REx gets really close to asteroid Bennu in rehearsalRelated: How NASA's asteroid sample return mission will work (infographic)This artist's concept shows the trajectory and configuration of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during the checkpoint rehearsal on April 14, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)In its first practice run, OSIRIS-REx went through two of the four maneuvers it would perform during a real asteroid-sampling attempt: the orbit departure burn and the "checkpoint" burn. NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this series of images of asteroid Bennu on April 14, 2020, during the first rehearsal of the mission's sample collection event.space.com
NASA asteroid probe will dodge building-size boulders to snatch sample of Bennu
But when NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Bennu in December 2018, the scientists and engineers on the mission realized that the asteroid was much, much rockier than they had expected. Boulders you do not want your fancy spacecraft to bang into. If those views don't line up, the spacecraft will automatically retreat for another attempt, rather than risk damage on the perilous surface. Scientists on the OSIRIS-REx mission have selected two target sampling sites on Bennu, dubbed Nightingale and Osprey. The mission's window for sampling opens in late August in order to ensure that the spacecraft can leave Bennu next year.space.com
Proposed asteroid landing sites now down to four nominees
Proposed asteroid landing sites now down to four nomineesHere is the a video produced by NASA showing the entire asteroid and the location of the landing sites. Caption: Pictured are the four candidate sample collection sites on asteroid Bennu selected by NASAs Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, mission. Credits: NASA/University of ArizonaAfter spending months grappling with the rugged reality of asteroid Bennus surface, the team leading NASAs first asteroid sample return mission has selected four potential sites for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to tag its cosmic dance partner. In order to further adapt to Bennus ruggedness, the OSIRIS-REx team has made other adjustments to its sample site identification process. The four candidate sample sites on Bennu are designated Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey, and Sandpiper all birds native to Egypt.