Would you like to see what things look like on a space rock several tens of millions of kilometers from Earth? NASA got you covered.
At the moment the near-Earth asteroid Bennu is about 290 million kilometers away and thus a NASA spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx. The probe will attempt a difficult target this fall: snatch a piece of space rock to bring it back to Earth.
Before the big day, OSIRIS-REx practices its moves – and the resulting footage is just as cool as you’d expect from a machine that flew to you just 40 meters above a debris-covered rock statement. This height corresponds to standing on the roof of an eleven-story building and looking down.
Connected: OSIRIS-REx: NASA̵
Instead of toy cars and ant-like people, the camera on board OSIRIS-REx saw only stones: large and small stones, sharp and rounded stones, dark and light stones. Rocks as far as the mechanical eye can see.
These rocks surround what scientists from the OSIRIS-REx mission have nicknamed Sampling point for nightingales, in a crater on the 500 m wide Bennu northern hemisphere. On October 20th, OSIRIS-REx will make a similar descent, but continue 130 feet, ready to pick up a souvenir among these rocks.
This sample will land here on Earth in September 2023 if everything goes according to plan. Scientists will then examine the debris from the asteroids for clues about the history of the solar system and the role carbon-rich space rocks like Bennu may have played in the ascension of life on Earth.
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