University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
The first image of the asteroid Bennu taken by robotic spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx which will enter Bennu's orbit in December.
University of Arizona-designed robotic spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx got its first view of target asteroid Bennu earlier this month. UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) says OSIRIS-REx will enter Bennu’s orbit Dec. 3.
The robot was launched in 2016 and is designed to orbit and survey the asteroid for about two years before bouncing on the surface and collecting a sample.
OSIRIS-REx first photo of Bennu marks the final approach to the asteroid. In the coming months before entering orbit, scientists at UA’s LPL will study Bennu’s size, shape and
atomic composition to gather as much data as they can about this near-Earth asteroid.
One reason scientists have chosen Bennu as their target is that its composition is, as described by New York Times writer Kenneth Chang, “a conglomeration of leftovers, largely unchanged over the last 4.5 billion years.”
In essence, scientists expect that Bennu will provide a look into the origins of the solar system.
OSIRIS-REx sample collection is scheduled for July 2020 and if everything goes as planned the robot will return to earth in September, 2023.
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