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Before-and-after of asteroid Bennu’s sample site

17 Apr 2021, 12:00 UTC
Before-and-after of asteroid Bennu’s sample site
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

As it made its final flyover of asteroid Bennu on April 7, 2021, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft peered down to capture an image of the aftermath of its encounter with the asteroid, late last year. On its YouTube page, NASA compared the mark left by OSIRIS-REx on Bennu to “boot prints on the moon.” And, as you can see in the video above – and in the animation at the end of this post – the spacecraft did leave its mark when it touched down on asteroid Bennu and collected its sample on October 20, 2020.
Asteroid Bennu’s surface was altered in three ways by OSIRIS-REx. The first was the force of OSIRIS-REx’s touchdown, which disturbed the rocks and soil below. The second was the sampling mechanism blowing gas into a collection filter. The third was the spacecraft’s back-away thrusters as it kicked off Bennu’s surface, with its sample in tow.
OSIRIS-REx is the first NASA mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid and collect a sample to return to Earth. To achieve an “after” photo that compares to the March 2019 image, a team of scientists had to determine the best time and angle for the flyby. As Dathon Golish, ...

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