OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaching asteroid Bennu.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Adjusts Speed In Hot Pursuit Of Dangerous Asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx efficiently carried out an engine burn to vary its velocity because it races towards the possibly harmful asteroid Bennu.

Asteroid Bennu is a 1,640-foot-wide (500 meters) area rock that might find yourself on a collision course with Earth someday within the subsequent century.

Hurtling via area at unimaginable speeds, the asteroid is presently at a secure distance from our planet and lies some 54 million miles away. But come 2135, asteroid Bennu has a one in 2,700 probability of changing into a menace and smashing into Earth.

Not to fret although, NASA is on the transfer and, as beforehand reported by the Inquisitr, has already deliberate to nuke the asteroid on that fatidic date.

However, earlier than breaking out the nukes, the area company needs to check the asteroid first and even snag some rock samples for future analyses.

Enter the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, brief for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. Launched on September eight, 2016, the area probe was despatched out to chase Bennu and is anticipated to achieve the asteroid later this yr, on December three.

The OSIRIS-REx Mission

The spacecraft’s mission is to orbit Bennu and collect as a lot knowledge as attainable from above the area rock, notes Space.com. Once this a part of the job is over, OSIRIS-REx can be swooping in on the asteroid’s floor in July 2020 to gather bodily samples from the 87-million-ton area rock.

The asteroid samples are to be packed in a particular capsule and returned to Earth in September 2023. Once this occurs, scientists will have the ability to study extra about this doubtlessly harmful asteroid.

But we nonetheless have a protracted methods to go till that point, and the primary concern that OSIRIS-REx has proper now’s first attending to Bennu.

To that impact, the spacecraft has just lately carried out an engine burn maneuver, firing its most important thruster to regulate its velocity by 37 mph (60 km/h), NASA introduced in the beginning of the week.

Conducted on June 28, the process is the second Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-2) efficiently pulled off by the OSIRIS-REx for the reason that spacecraft began its journey towards asteroid Bennu, notes the area company.

Four More To Go

The first huge engine burn executed by the OSIRIS-REx got here three months after launch, in December 2016. Between then and now, the spacecraft carried out plenty of small thruster firings final September, when the OSIRIS-REx did a flyby of Earth in preparation for a gravity help maneuver.

While the DSM-2 value the area probe about 28.2 kilos (12.eight kilograms) of gas, the process is a vital step that units the stage for one more kind of maneuvers designed to facilitate its method to Bennu, acknowledged NASA officers.

“The thruster burn put the spacecraft on course for a series of asteroid-approach maneuvers to be executed this fall that will culminate with the spacecraft’s scheduled arrival at asteroid Bennu on December 3.”

The asteroid-approach maneuvers quantity 4 procedures in whole and are scheduled to happen this fall, with the primary one slated for early October. Called Asteroid Approach Maneuver 1 (AAM-1), the process will assist OSIRIS-REx cut back its velocity relative to Bennu from 1,130 mph to 320 mph (1,820 to 515 km/h).

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