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BOOP! NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx pokes an asteroid and collects the debris

22 Oct 2020, 13:00 UTC
BOOP! NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx pokes an asteroid and collects the debris
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On Tuesday, 20 October 2020, the OSIRIS-REx* spacecraft booped the asteroid Bennu.

After orbiting the tiny half-kilometer wide asteroid for nearly two years, it dropped slowly down the surface, aiming at a spot on the surface nicknamed Nightingale, a relatively clear area the size of a double-wide parking area surrounded by boulders as big as the spacecraft itself.

Its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) extended on the end of a long arm, contact with the surface was made by the dinner-plate sized head of the device. About one second later blasts of nitrogen gas were emitted, stirring up the small surface rocks, which flew off the asteroid like shrapnel from an explosion in the extremely low gravity. Smaller bits, though, were guided by the gas into a collector in the head. A few seconds after that, the spacecraft thrusters fired, backing it away at a zippy 40 centimeters per second (0.9 mph, basically a shuffle).

This video is made of *actual images* taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft as it approached the asteroid Bennu, made contact, blasted it with nitrogen gas to create a cloud of debris, collected samples, and backed away. There are two parts: A smoother stream showing approach ...

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