Launched in 2016 automaticThe OSIRIS-REx interplanetary station continues its work - at the moment it is looking for the ideal place to collect soil, samples of which will later be sent to Earth. Since most of the space object is covered with boulders, the researchers intend to collect regolith from subtle impact craters, photos of which were finally published on the Internet. The pictures were taken as part of the asteroid surface mapping program within the Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations program.
Impact craters cause researchers a specialinterest, because fragments of rock and regolith can only be mined there. The mining operation will be carried out in mid-2020, using a special manipulator and a mechanism that crushes stones with compressed air. In total, researchers want to extract from 60 grams to 2 kilograms of material, and deliver them to Earth in the fall of 2023.
OSIRIS-REx will take soil samples from Bennu craters
One of the potential sampling siteslocated in the northern hemisphere of Bennu. There is a 21.6-meter impact crater, which was taken on March 29 with a PolyCam camera from a 3.6-kilometer distance. As you can see, there are practically no large boulders in the crater area, which will allow the manipulator to take samples without any special problems.
The second potential site for collecting samples is the north-western part of one of the largest asteroid craters. The picture was taken on April 11 from a distance of 4.6 kilometers.
The third area of interest for researcherslocated near the darkest boulder Bennu - the photo was taken on April 4th. It shows that to the north of the stone there is a section with fairly loose regolith.
The fourth crater is located near the equator - its size reaches 41.5 meters and it is surrounded by large boulders. The photo was taken on April 11th.
Also, researchers are particularly interested in the edges of another equatorial crater - even from a distance of 2.4 meters it can be seen that there are also almost no large boulders in this area.
Over time, researchers will be able to more accuratelydetermine which of the above craters is best suited for sampling. A more thorough study of their properties will be done until September 2019, after the spacecraft moves to a lower orbit.
What do you think - which of the territories isthe most suitable place to collect the soil? Perhaps you have your own arguments? Discuss this, and other news of science and technology, can be in our Telegram-chat.