NASA's NASA asteroid sampling spacecraft OSIRIS-REx, currently positioned around the tiny near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu, has for the moment transmitted its closest photo to the surface of the asteroid.
NASA has already released photos of OSIRIS-REx taken on January 17, 2019 with the NavCam navigation camera 1 of the craft, at a distance of about 1.6 km above its surface. Now, NASA has released a photo taken on June 13 from a circular orbit of only 690 meters above Bennu, described as the closest a spacecraft has ever put into orbit in the solar system.
Here is everything:
From the exit:
This image of the asteroid Bennu was captured on June 13, 2019, shortly after NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe completed its second orbital insertion maneuver. From the perspective of the spacecraft in orbit, half of Bennu is lit by the sun and the other in the shadows. The largest rock of Bennu can also be seen protruding from the southern hemisphere. The image was taken at a distance of 0.6 km (690 m) above the surface of the asteroid by NavCam 1, one of the three navigation cameras that make up the TAGCAMS suite (Touch camera system -and-Go) of the spacecraft. At this distance, details as small as 0.5 m can be resolved in the center of the image.
OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer) was launched in 2016 and arrived in Bennu in December 2018. It is equipped with five data acquisition instruments. It is intended to carry out NASA's first mission: to return samples an asteroid.
OSIRIS-REx had already defined the story: Bennu is about 1,500 feet (~ 520 meters) in diameter, making it the smallest object ever put into orbit by a spacecraft. Earlier this year, NASA scientists determined that Bennu's surface was spitting material and was steeper than previously thought, making it difficult to collect samples.
According to mission scientists, OSIRIS-REx will remain in its current orbit until mid-August, during which time it will use instruments such as the OSIRIS-REx (OLA) laser altimeter to create a terrain map. Complete, PolyCam for Global Image Mosaic ", as well as the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and the REgolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) to" Produce Global Maps in X-Ray and Infrared Bands " . the best landing site to minimize the risk of problems.
After that, OSIRIS-REx will rise to an orbit about 1.3 km higher. Sample collection using an instrument called Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) is currently planned for summer 2020, while the return to Earth is planned for 2023.
A similar mission in Japan, Hayabusa2, was able to collect samples of asteroid Ryugu using a tantalum bullet in February 2019, and then blew a hole using an explosive device for another sample of samples. However, this second run has not yet taken place and his schedule is limited before Ryugu gets too close to the sun for the mission to be viable.[NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin]