Rocks and boulders
Rather, it was strewn with giant boulders and small rocks, and this created an issue. Because Bennu is now up to now from Earth, there is an 18.5-minute time delay between right here and there. This means the spacecraft will likely be flying by itself, with automated navigation. Originally, mission planners had hoped to set the automobile down inside a easy sq. about 25 meters by 25 meters. But due to the asteroid’s tough floor, no such areas existed.
So now OSIRIS-REx will goal a smaller space, simply seven meters on a facet, including to the problem at this time. The spacecraft will depart its orbit, a bit more than 1km from Bennu, at 1:50pm ET Tuesday (17:50 UTC). It will slowly strategy the asteroid and have the capability to abort the “touch-and-go” maneuver up till a distance of 5 meters from the asteroid.
Factoring in the time delay, the spacecraft arm will touch Bennu at 6:12pm ET (22:12 UTC), and scientists ought to know fairly shortly whether or not the maneuver occurred. (NASA will provide live coverage.) However, they will not have a sign of whether or not the effort to seize a pattern was profitable till they begin getting excessive-decision knowledge Tuesday evening. The researchers will carry out assessments on Saturday to try to measure exactly how a lot asteroid materials OSIRIS-REx gathered earlier than figuring out whether or not a second try is essential.
To declare the mission successful, scientists say they want to seize 60g of asteroid dust. But Heather Enos, a University of Arizona, Tucson, scientist and an OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, mentioned the group is hoping for more. “We have the capability of collecting up to two kilograms, and I would love for that capsule to be completely full,” she mentioned. “And I can tell you I have had some wild dreams.”
After scientists decide that OSIRIS-REx has grabbed sufficient pebbles and dust grains from Bennu, will probably be time for the spacecraft to return to Earth. A capsule carrying the materials is due to land in a Utah desert on September 24, 2023. There could also be just a few more white knuckles at that time.