Wow — what a mess! This image shows the wide variety of boulder shapes, sizes and compositions found on asteroid Bennu. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on March 28 from a distance of 2.1 miles (3.4 km). NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
Want to hunt rocks on an asteroid 84 million miles away? NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu needs extra pairs of eyes to help pick a safe sampling site and to look for other curiosities.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been at Bennu since Dec. 3, 2018, mapping the asteroid in detail, while the mission team searches for a sample collection site that is safe, conducive to sample collection and worthy of closer study. The photo hints at just how tricky it might be to gather a sample from its surface. I mean, that’s a lot of rocks! Each one poses a hazard. That’s why the team is looking for citizen scientist volunteers to help create a “hazard map” by counting boulders.
One of Bennu’s hemisphere’s photographed from 15 miles (24 km) away by OSIRIS-REx. Bennu is only 1,614 feet (492 meters) across and a classic “boulder pile” asteroid made of debris from collisions ...