The OSIRIS-REx probe will fly over the asteroid Bennu for the last time to check the damage caused during its mission

Published:

7 abr 2021 12:47 GMT

The spacecraft is expected to mimic detailed observation sequences that were carried out in a 2019 study.

This Wednesday, the OSIRIS-REx space probe will make its last flyby around the asteroid Bennu to obtain images of its surface. With this mission, NASA hopes to assess the damage caused by the spacecraft during the October sample collection last year.

During the 5.9 hours that the mission will last, equivalent to little more than a complete period of rotation of the asteroid, the probe will take photographs of the surface of Bennu and will imitate one of the observation sequences that were carried out during a phase of detailed study that took place in 2019.

“Since Bennu’s gravity is so weak, these various forces from the spacecraft had a dramatic effect on the sample site, throwing off many of the rocks in the region and a large amount of dust in the process,” NASA noted.

The images obtained will help scientists better understand how the contact and the extraction of samples altered the surface of the asteroid, which was severely affected by OSIRIS-Rex.

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Similarly, the scientists hope to check the status of the research instruments on board the spacecraft, since they were covered by a large amount of dust during the collection of the samples.

After successfully completing its mission, the space probe is expected to return to Earth in 2023 with the samples obtained.

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