The asteroids’ composition has always been a mystery for the science world. In recent years, Asteroid Bennu, a rock spotted close to Earth, was in the centre of attention. Scientists are not sure if it is threatening our planet, so they decided to look deeper into the matter.
Some time ago, NASA concluded to send a probe on Asteroid Bennu for collecting studying material. Now, they finally have the chance to find answers to all their questions, because Osiris-Rex, the probe which they sent on Bennu finally reached its destination after a two-year journey.
Scientists will have to follow the probe’s activity for a long time
Osiris-Rex arrived on Monday and will spend around two and a half years on Bennu. It’s no wonder, because it will have to map the surface of a rock which is 500 m wide. After mapping is completed, the probe will also have to study Bennu’s composition.
At the middle of 2020, when its mission is completed, Osiris-Rex will collect some regolith. This means that scientists will drop the probe on Bennu’s surface and the object will grab at least 60 g of the rock’s “top soil”. The sample will be packed in a sterile capsule and brought to Earth in 2023.
Osiris-Rex’s preliminary survey will start in a few days, as soon as the object gets closer to the asteroid’s surface. Coralie Adams, flight navigator and staff member of the team supervising the probe’s mission declared that they will have to fly over the equator, the South Pole and surround the North Pole three times for an accurate estimation.
By New Year, Bennu becomes the smallest object that was ever orbited by a probe. In any case, the scientists are hoping to get all the information they need in order to understand if the asteroid is an actual threat for our planet.