NASA’s daring asteroid mission is seeking to obtain a landing spot on Bennu – CNET

This illustration displays Osiris-Rex touching asteroid Bennu in the course of a sample assortment procedure.

NASA’s Goddard Place Flight Centre

We know it can be finished. Japan’sHayabusa-two spacecraft triumphantly scooped up a bit of asteroid Ryugu before heading household. NASA hopes it will before long have related results withOsiris-Rex, their most recent robotic wonder crafted to landnoton a world or a moon, but the asteroid Bennu. It is heading to be tough.

NASA is days absent from deciding upon a sample web page for its intrepid spacecraft’s sample selection procedure, the agency announced on Wednesday. It has not been an quick system. In July, NASA narrowed the solutions down to four websites with fowl-themed names: Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey and Sandpiper. 

These are the 4 potential sample web sites on asteroid Bennu.

NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona

Osiris-Rex has been executing reconnaissance flybys of the internet sites, snagging higher-resolution pictures and providing its staff a lot of foodstuff for assumed. 

Bennu is a significantly messier, rockier location than NASA expected. It is littered with boulders, some of which are as significant as properties. 

The agency had hoped to discover a spacious sandy space free of road blocks. “In fact the potential sample web-sites are not large, distinct parts, but relatively compact areas surrounded by huge boulders, so navigating the spacecraft in and out of the web pages will call for a little bit a lot more high-quality-tuning than originally prepared,” mentioned NASA in a launch on Wednesday.

Osiris-Rex has a created-in basic safety system that will abort the sample assortment run if the spacecraft detects a probable hazard. The trick will be navigating it down to Bennu’s surface in a location that won’t trigger the process. 

“If the spacecraft executes a wave-off though making an attempt to obtain a sample, that simply means that the two the crew and the spacecraft have performed their work opportunities to make sure the spacecraft can fly a different day. The good results of the mission is our initial priority,” mentioned deputy project supervisor Mike Moreau.

We’ll quickly know which bird will occur out on top rated. NASA will identify a most important and a backup internet site. Sample assortment is scheduled for mid-2020. If all goes well, Osiris-Rex will deliver a bit of Bennu again to Earth in late 2023. 

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