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NASA’s Asteroid Sampling Probe Snaps Picture of Asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023

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OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid bennu
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NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission OSIRIS-REx, which went into orbit around asteroid Bennu on New Year’s Eve, has captured incredible photographs of the smallest ever celestial body to be orbited by a spacecraft.

Launched from Florida in 2016, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached Bennu, an asteroid the size of the pyramid at Giza, on December 3, 2018 after travelling more than one billion miles through space.

“The mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on December 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km),” researchers from the Arizona State University (ASU) said in a statement on Thursday.

“The image was obtained at a 50-degree phase angle between the spacecraft, asteroid and the sun, and in it, Bennu spans approximately 1,500 pixels in the camera’s field of view,” it added.

The team of scientists found that Bennu is a craggy ball, with some boulders the size of houses.

They thought taking the sample return was going to be like plucking something from a football field. However, it is not.

“We didn’t know what it looked like, and that’s called exploration,” said Phil Christensen, Professor at Arizona State University (ASU).

“It’s going to be like landing between two parked cars in a parking lot,” Christensen said.

Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

Bennu is not a solid rock. It’s either porous or formed of a very “fluffy” – Christensen’s word – material.

This type of meteorite is so fragile, if you get it wet or touch it with your hands, it’s ruined, said Devin Schrader, assistant research professor with the ASU.

Interestingly, these meteorites contain water. It’s not in liquid form, but it’s in the minerals – up to 2 per cent in some cases. Bennu’s parent body had significant interactions with water, said ,” said Vicky Hamilton, a co-investigator on the OSIRIS-REx mission, Schrader said.

The OSIRIS-REx will begin science operations in late February.

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At that point, the spacecraft will perform a series of close flybys of Bennu for several months to take high-resolution images of every square inch of the asteroid to help select a sampling site.

During the summer of 2020, the spacecraft will briefly touch the surface of Bennu to retrieve a sample.

The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023. (IANS)

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NASA Reveals First Person on Mars ‘is Likely to be a Woman’

NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA's astronaut corps

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NASA, mars
NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency. Pixabay

The first person on Mars is ‘likely to be a woman’, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has said.

“It’s likely to be a woman, the first next person on the Moon. It’s also true that the first person on Mars is likely to be a woman,” CNN cited Bridenstine as saying on a science and technology radio talk show “Science Friday”.

The NASA administrator did not identify a specific person but said women are at the forefront of the agency’s upcoming plans.

NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the US space agency.

NASA, mars
NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA’s astronaut corps. Currently, women comprise 34 per cent of its active astronauts, according to the agency. Pixabay

“So these are great days. We have the first all-female spacewalk happening this month at the end of March, which is of course, National Women’s Month,” Bridenstine said.

Both McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women. They came from the second largest applicant pool NASA has ever received — more than 6,100. The most recent class of flight directors was also 50 per cent women, NASA said.

 

ALSO READ: NASA’s Future Scientists Would Likely Be Better Equipped To Study The Lunar Material

NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA’s astronaut corps. Currently, women comprise 34 per cent of its active astronauts, according to the agency.

“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” Bridenstine said. (IANS)