Monday February 19, 2018

NASA’S OSIRIS-REX mission to flyby Earth on Friday

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Washington, Sep 22 : NASA’s asteriod hunting spacecraft OSIRIS-REx , is all set to make a close flyby of Earth on Friday, before reaching asteroid Bennu, media has reported.

The Earth’s gravity will fling the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, travelling at a staggering speed of 19,000 miles (30,758 km) per hour, upward by about six degrees so that its trajectory will match the tilt of the orbit of asteroid Bennu, nytimes.com reported on Thursday.

OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) was launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket on September 8, 2016 to study samples from the asteroid Bennu — a type B carbonaceous asteroid with an approximate diameter of about 1,614 feet (492 meters).

On Friday, the spacecraft will approach and retreat from its closest position over Earth, approximately 11,000 miles (17,000 km) above the planet’s surface, swinging it over Australia before making its closest approach over Antarctica near Cape Horn, Chile.

“The opportunity to capture images of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft as it approaches Earth provides a unique challenge for observers to hone their skills during this historic flyby,” Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson, NASA said in a statement earlier this month.

“We’re essentially stealing a bit of the Earth’s momentum as we go by,” said Michael Moreau, who leads Osiris-Rex’s navigation team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at its destination of Bennu in 2018, where it will collect and return samples that experts believe may hold the building blocks of life.

IANS

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NASA’s Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

NASA researchers found that some of the signals were caused by multiple star systems or noise from the spacecraft

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UFO religion as a concept is now becoming a part of popular understanding.
Countless galaxies exist in the universe, each hiding secrets that humankind is yet to unearth. Pixabay
  • NASA’s Kepler has discovered nearly 100 new exoplanets
  • Some of the planets discovered are as large as Jupiter
  • NASA has also found planet which orbits very bright stars

An international team of scientists have confirmed the discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets — planets located outside our solar system.

The discovery was based on data from the second mission of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope or K2 released in 2014.

NASA has discovered nearly 100 exoplanets. Wikimedia Commons
NASA has discovered nearly 100 exoplanets. Wikimedia Commons

K2 searches for exoplanet transits by registering dips in light caused by the shadow of an exoplanet as it crosses in front of its host star.

NASA researchers found that some of the signals were caused by multiple star systems or noise from the spacecraft.

But they also detected planets that range from sub-Earth-sized to the size of Jupiter and larger.

Also Read: Milky Way’s neighbouring galaxy is of the same size, not bigger

One of the planets detected was orbiting a very bright star.

“We validated a planet on a 10-day orbit around a star called HD 212657, which is now the brightest star found by K2 missions to host a validated planet,” said lead author Andrew Mayo, a doctoral student at the National Space Institute (DTU Space) at the Technical University of Denmark.

Some of the planets found are as big as Jupiter. VOA
Some of the planets found are as big as Jupiter. VOA

For the study, appearing in the Astronomical Journal, the team started out analyzing 275 candidates of which 149 were validated as real exoplanets.

In turn 95 of these planets have proved to be new discoveries, Mayo said.

The Kepler spacecraft was first launched in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in a single patch of sky, but in 2013 a mechanical failure crippled the telescope.

NASA has found many planets before as well. Wikimedia Commons
NASA has found many planets before as well. Wikimedia Commons

However, astronomers and engineers devised a way to repurpose and save the space telescope by changing its field of view periodically. This solution paved the way for the follow up K2 mission.

Adding the newly discovered exoplanets brings the total number of exoplanets by K2 mission to almost 300, the study said.

Also Read: NASA sounding rocket probing dark regions of space falter

The first planet orbiting a star similar to our own Sun was detected only in 1995. Today some 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter. IANS