IMAGE: This artist’s concept shows the planned flight path of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during its final flyby of asteroid Bennu, which is scheduled for April 7. CREDIT: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
Tomorrow, the OSIRIS-REx mission is going to do a final close flyby of the asteroid Bennu. Back on October 20, the mission collected a sample of the asteroid and discovered while trying to bounce off its surface, that its surface isn’t exactly solid. The mission accidentally plunged half a meter into the asteroid before its thrusters could reverse its motion.
On April 7, during an almost six-hour imaging sequence, OSIRIS-REx will obtain high-resolution images similar to the initial mapping images it obtained in 2019. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing if OSIRIS-REx left a crater on Bennu, or if the rocks simply flowed like ball pit balls and filled in the hole the mission made. Hopeful initial images will be released later this week.
This is OSIRIS-REx’s final hi-res imaging run, and on May 10 the mission will begin its journey home. In September 2023, we can expect its samples to get returned to Earth.
NASA press release