Research

NASA is asking for help from the online community in carrying out the OSIRIS-REx mission

Scientists from the aerospace agency NASA decidedappeal to space enthusiasts for help in preparing a detailed map of the surface of the asteroid Bennu. The agency’s specialists want the Internet users to help them mark all the stones on the surface of the object on a special map so that in the future you can choose the most suitable point for the operation to collect asteroid soil samples, reports the Space.com portal.

The source notes that the experts from NASAIt will be only six weeks from the moment when the space research device OSIRIS-REx, located in the orbit of the Bennu asteroid, completes the task of creating a detailed image of the object's surface, until the moment when it is necessary to finally determine the place of the soil intake from its surface. With all the desire, the number of people that was allocated for this mission is not enough to solve the problem of drawing up a detailed map of the features of the surface of the asteroid.

"The task is to map each boulder onthe surface of the asteroid is really large-scale, and we, frankly, simply did not find another way to do it within the time available, ”explains project participant Karina Bennett.

“We really really need help from the outside,” the scientist adds.

Detailed map of the boulders of the asteroid Bennu scientistsnecessary to ensure that during the operation of collecting soil samples does not damage the robotic manipulator, equipped with a special pneumatic device. If you know the exact location of the stones, scientists will be able to choose the most optimal place to reduce the apparatus and conduct the planned operation. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the Bennu surface turned out to be much more uneven than the researchers initially intended.

“It has a lot more rocks and boulders than we expected,” explains Bennett.

High quality image of the asteroid's surfaceNASA experts are going to publish on a special site in late April - early May. From this moment, a six-week report will begin, for which space enthusiasts will have to carefully consider the images, marking the boundaries of the boulders on the surface of the object.

“I think that the most interesting component inThis job will consist in the fact that you can actually contribute to the subsequent decision. You will then be able to see how we will take the sample, and perhaps you will see the very area where you yourself marked the boulders, ”says Bennet.

Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx, designedTo explore the Bennu asteroid and collect soil samples from its surface, it was launched in September 2016. The device is equipped with several scientific instruments, including: cameras, spectrometers, and laser altimeters. At the end of December 2018, OSIRIS-REx entered the asteroid orbit, and is currently awaiting the next phase of the mission - the actual collection of soil samples from its surface.

The operation is scheduled for mid-2020. It will be carried out using a special manipulator with a pneumatic mechanism. The mission team expects to receive a total of from 60 grams to 2 kilograms of soil samples. The device will be returned home in the autumn of 2023. Samples placed in a special capsule will be dropped to the ground.

Bennu asteroid has a diameter of about 550meters It belongs to the Apollo group - objects whose orbit intersects the orbit of the Earth. According to rough estimates, the probability of Bennu colliding with the Earth is 1 to 4000. If it really falls on our planet, the energy released when the body falls to the surface will be equivalent in power to an explosion of a 2700 megaton bomb.

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