NASA mission picks 4 sites for asteroid Bennu sample return

Washington: After grappling with the rugged actuality of asteroid Bennu’s floor, NASA, the US area company, has lastly chosen 4 potential websites for its spacecraft to “tag” its cosmic dance accomplice.

Since its arrival in December 2018, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has mapped your complete asteroid so as to determine the most secure and most accessible spots for the spacecraft to gather a pattern.

These 4 websites now will probably be studied in additional element so as to choose the ultimate two websites — a main and backup — in December, NASA stated in a press release on Tuesday.

“We knew that Bennu would surprise us, so we came prepared for whatever we might find,” stated Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator on the College of Arizona, Tucson.

The 4 candidate pattern websites on Bennu are designated as Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey, and Sandpiper — all birds native to Egypt.

Since arriving at near-Earth asteroid Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has been learning this small world of boulders, rocks, and free rubble — and on the lookout for a spot to the touch down.

The aim is to gather a pattern of Bennu in mid-2020, and return it to Earth in late 2023.

This fall, OSIRIS-REx will start detailed analyses of the 4 candidate websites throughout the mission’s reconnaissance part.

The second and third phases of reconnaissance will start in early 2020.

OSIRIS-REx pattern assortment is scheduled for the latter half of 2020, and the spacecraft will return the asteroid samples to Earth on September 24, 2023.

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