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NASA's space probe turns more around an asteroid than ever before



After a maneuver, the mission of NASA's mission study on asteroids is in orbit closer to a planetary body than any other spacecraft ever arrived, the space agency said.

The mission has recently entered a new phase during which the spacecraft will gravitate to an altitude of about 2,231 feet, or 0.6 km, above the surface of the asteroid Bennu.

During this phase, known as the Orbital B, the probe will capture images of the asteroid's horizon and map the object to determine the best gathering site. Samples on Bennu's surface, NASA announced in a statement released Thursday.

It will stay as close to the asteroid until the second week of August.

The spacecraft broke its previous record, set at 4,224 feet, or 0.8 miles, of Bennu.

The final goal

OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, is the first mission to return NASA's asteroid samples.

It's a seven-year mission. The spacecraft, launched in September 2016, arrived at Bennu in December 2018. It will study and map Bennu, navigate near the asteroid and finally touch the surface for five seconds to retrieve a sample, says the website. the mission.

A spaceship makes unexpected events discovered on the asteroid Bennu

"This primitive asteroid sample will help scientists understand the formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago," NASA said.

Bennu is an asteroid close to the Earth that could pass our planet closer to the moon in 2135, with approaches even closer possible in 2175 and 2195.

Although the likelihood of Bennu hitting the Earth directly is unlikely, the information provided by OSIRIS-REx can help scientists understand how to divert asteroids close to Earth.

Already, scientists have encountered unexpected observations. They detected plumes of particles ejecting from the surface. This discovery means that Bennu is a rare and active asteroid that regularly ejects materials in space.

The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth in September 2023.

CNN's Ashley Strickland contributed to this report.


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