This week in astronomy news, the Osiris-REX spacecraft entered orbit around the asteroid Bennu, while Juna of NASA photographed volcanic eruption in the eruption of Jupiter's moon Io.
Osiris-REX entered the orbit around Bennu
While many have been waiting for the New Horizons flight to New Year, another NASA spacecraft has already reached a major milestone on the New Year's Eve. Osiris-REX entered the orbit around a miniature asteroid Bennu at 2:43 am. EST on December 31. At only 492 meters (nearly a third of a mile) across, the rock is the smallest object that ever orbited the spacecraft. Osiris-REX will enclose Bennu within a mile of its center – closer than Rosetta once reached its comet. This near orbit will help the spacecraft to remain locked on the target despite Bennu's weak gravitational field.
Orbital insertion went without a hook after a preliminary survey on the surface of Bennu. The current orbit will continue until mid-February, after which the team plans more challenging summer activities. The purpose of all this is to measure and map the mass distribution of Bennu with exceptional precision. Knowing the gravity of Bennu will be crucial for finding samples, scheduled for the summer of 2020. The sample returns to Earth in 2023.
Find out more details about the orbital insertion delineation in a statement for the Osiris-REX team.
Jouno Pictures volcanic plume from the Jupiter Moon Yo
NASA's Probe photographed the polar regions of Jupiter's moon Io on December 21st, painting the world of ultraviolet, optical, and infrared wavelengths for more than an hour. The images caught an active volcanic feather erupts at the right time, is seen as a bright spot just behind the terminator (day / night border).
"The Earth is already overshadowed, but the height of the tide allows it to reflect the sunlight," explains lead Yudochem Kandice Hansen-Koharchek (Institute of Planetary Sciences), "similar to how the mountains or clouds on Earth continue to glow in the sun set it. "
June continued recording the moon, even after it passed in the shadow of Jupiter. The Stellar Reference Unit, designed to capture low-light images, recorded Io with sunlight that reflects on the surface of Europe and on Io.
Read more about the details of the observations in the press release of the Southwestern Research Institute.