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Asteroid Bennu Finally Captured By NASA’S OSIRIS-REx

After the sample collection, the spacecraft will head back towards Earth before ejecting the "Sample Return Capsule" for landing in Utah.

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NASA to use Blockchain technology for air traffic management. Pixabay

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has captured the first glimpse of its distant target — asteroid Bennu — after almost two years of journey.

Launched on September 8, 2016, the OSIRIS-REx, which is NASA’s first mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid, is scheduled to arrive at Bennu on December 3. It will help unveil the mysteries of our solar system’s formation, the US space agency said in a statement.

The spacecraft’s PolyCam camera obtained the image from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km) or almost six times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, on August 17.

The cropped set of five images were obtained over the course of an hour. Bennu is visible as a moving object against the stars in the constellation Serpens, the statement said.

As OSIRIS-REx approaches the asteroid, the spacecraft will use its science instruments to gather information about Bennu and prepare for arrival.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx. Flickr

It will regularly observe the area around Bennu to search for dust plumes and natural satellites and also study its light and spectral properties.

“Now that OSIRIS-REx is close enough to observe Bennu, the mission team will spend the next few months learning as much as possible about Bennu’s size, shape, surface features, and surroundings before the spacecraft arrives at the asteroid,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in the US.

After arrival at Bennu, the spacecraft will spend the first-month performing flybys of Bennu’s north pole, equator and south pole, at distances ranging between 11.8 and 4.4 miles (19 and 7 km) from the asteroid.

Also Read: India will Send a Manned Flight into Space by 2020: Modi

The spacecraft will extensively survey the asteroid before the mission team identifies two possible sample sites, which will allow the team to pick one for sample collection, scheduled for July 2020.

After the sample collection, the spacecraft will head back towards Earth before ejecting the “Sample Return Capsule” for landing in the Utah desert in September 2023. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA’S Twins Study Claims, Long-term Spaceflight Not Linked to Major Health Risks

"It's almost as if the body's on high alert," said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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NASA
Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Pixabay

While it was previously thought that long duration spaceflight can affect the human body, even at the molecular level, new results from NASAs “Twins Study” has showed that there are no major warning signs and no reason to think humans cannot survive a two-and-a-half-year round-trip journey to Mars.

As part of the “Twins Study”, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark, his identical twin, stayed on Earth as a control subject to look at the effects of space travel on the human body.

Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

NASA
According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern. Pixabay

These comparisons, however, has not raised any red flags about long-term spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA officials were quoted as saying at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here.

“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The space sojourn also changed the activity of some of his genes.

“It’s mostly really good news,” Mason said, adding, “the body has extraordinary plasticity and adaptation to being in zero gravity, at least for a year”.

NASA
“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pixabay

According to Craig Kundrot, Director of NASA’s space life and physical sciences division, so far the space agency’s research found nothing that would make a Mars mission impossible.

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According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern.

However, Kundrot cautioned that the twin study has only two people as samples. “We don’t regard any of this as conclusive, but on the whole it’s encouraging,” he said, adding, “there are no new major warning signs”. (IANS)