After a few moments of anxiety, NASA's mission control OSIRIS-REx confirmed the meeting of this space probe with the asteroid Bennu, also known as the "asteroid of death". Rich in carbon, this celestial body can contain the chemical predecessors of the origins of life and oceans on our planet, and therefore the research on its surface is so important.
"We Came," announced during a NASA broadcast of mission control at Lockheed Martin Space in Colorado, telecommunications engineer Javier Cherna announced. This is an important step in the OSIRIS-REx mission, which aims to study a nearby nearby object and to upload samples to return them to Earth in 2023.
Mark Fischer, chief spacecraft engineer for the OSIRIS-REx mission at Colorado's Lockheed Martin Space, said the maneuvering to reach Bennu paved the way for "the precise flight mode we will do next year and a half to make a map and discover everything we can and for Osiris-Rex to determine the best place to find a sample of the asteroid and return it. "
Over the coming months, the ship will make a total of five passing through the north pole, the equator and the south pole, at a distance of 7 kilometers. The main scientific goals of this preliminary phase are to evaluate Bennu's mass, refine the asteroid rotation model, and generate a global model with a 75 centimeters resolution.
The purpose of the mission is to collect a sample of rough surface layers and returned with her on Earth. However, before you do all this on a spacecraft will set aside for nearly two years to list the contours.
It is estimated that around July 2020 the ship will briefly touch the surface of the Bennu to collect at least 60 grams (equivalent to about 30 sugar packs) on the ground and rocks.
The spacecraft will then pack the specimen into a capsule and return to Earth, dropping that capsule in the wilderness of Western Utah in 2023, where scientists will wait to take it.