‘X’ marks the spot as NASA prepares for a historic asteroid mission.
NASA has chosen the location on asteroid Bennu the place its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will retrieve a pattern of area rock.
Scientists recognized 4 potential websites earlier than selecting a spot dubbed “Nightingale” that’s situated in Bennu’s northern hemisphere.
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“After totally evaluating all 4 candidate websites, we made our closing determination primarily based on which website has the best quantity of fine-grained materials and the way simply the spacecraft can entry that materials whereas preserving the spacecraft protected,” mentioned Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator on the College of Arizona in Tucson, in a press release. “Of the 4 candidates, website Nightingale finest meets these standards and, in the end, finest ensures mission success.”
A second website, dubbed Osprey, has been picked as a backup for pattern assortment.
OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Useful resource Identification, Safety-Regolith Explorer, launched in September 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Pressure Station. The spacecraft reached Bennu in December 2018.
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The spacecraft will use a robotic arm to seize the pattern from Bennu.
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OSIRIS-Rex will make its first “touch-and-go” pattern assortment try in August 2020. The probe will depart Bennu in 2021 and is scheduled to return to Earth in September 2023, in keeping with NASA.
The Related Press contributed to this text. Fox Information’ Jennifer Earl and Chris Ciaccia contributed to this text.
Comply with James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers