NASA Says Taking Sample From Asteroid Bennu Harder Than Expected

NASA           Particle Plumes

NASA Particle Plumes

Bennu is the target of NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31.

"Throughout OSIRIS-REx's operations near Bennu, our spacecraft and operations team have demonstrated that we can achieve system performance that beats design requirements", said Rich Burns, the project manager of OSIRIS-REx.

Bennu's entire surface was also found to be rough and dense with boulders, contrary to the Earth-based observations, which showed a smooth surface with a few large boulders.

The rough surface means the touch-and-go sample collection plans had to be adjusted, according to NASA.

"We have certainly never seen something like this from a spacecraft before", Lauretta said. For OSIRIS-REx, that includes particles spewing off of the surface in plumes. OSIRIS-REX's digicam has noticed particles touring at more massive speeds coming into orbit across the asteroid, whereas some materials strike quick sufficient to escape Bennu completely, Lauretta stated.

It was determined that the particles ejecting off the asteroid didn't pose any danger to the spacecraft, so the team continued to observe the plumes and their possible causes.

OSIRIS-REx (the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) arrived in orbit of Bennu on December 31 of previous year.

The three-month observation as the spacecraft rotated Bennu has already produced multiple discoveries.

"Our preferred scenario suggests that Ryugu's parent body once had much more water in the beginning and subsequently lost a large fraction of it", said Sheji Sugita, one of the studies' authors. Both asteroids are more rugged and rocky than anticipated.

"We're going to try to meet that schedule", Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission, tells The Verge. And scientists have already been confounded by Bennu, mere months after NASA arrived at the asteroid.

The mission was aiming just to get on the dart board, Burns said, but now with such hard landing circumstances, "We're going to try to hit the bullseye". "In reality, we're nonetheless studying learn how to course of the information, analyze the knowledge, and make sense of what's happening at this asteroid". That makes Bennu an active asteroid that is regularly ejecting material into space, which is rare. Samples from the asteroid, which are expected back on earth by 2023, will help us answer some of the biggest questions about where we come from, according to an official press release. "Bennu has issued us a challenge to deal with its rugged terrain, and we are confident that OSIRIS-REx is up to the task". One concept into consideration by OSIRIS-REx's science workforce is that the plume outbursts could be associated with Bennu's place in its orbit across the solar.

The OSIRIS-REx mission is led by the University of Arizona. It turns out that Bennu's spin is speeding up at a rate of roughly one second every 100 years. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the spacecraft and executes flight operations.

A series of papers published this week report the early findings from the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu.

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