The device OSIRIS-REx approached the Benn asteroid at a record close distance

NASA space agency interestedthe study of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu for two reasons. Firstly, it is a potentially dangerous object for our planet, and secondly, samples of its soil can reveal the secrets of the origin of the solar system. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently studying its surface, which in early June moved to a new phase of its mission called Orbital B. Within its framework, the device approached the asteroid at a record-breaking distance of 680 meters.

Until now, none of the existed in historythe spacecraft did not circle around a small object at such close range. The previous record also belonged to OSIRIS-REx - before the second stage of the mission, it circled in a 1300-meter orbit. Being at different distances from the object is important for performing various actions, and if previously the device was mainly engaged only in shooting the surface, then in a low orbit it will also be able to study the particles ejected by the asteroid.

Photo of Bennu asteroid from close range

In the first two weeks of stay at a distance of 680meters apparatus will periodically take photographs that will help to study the nature of the mysterious particles emitted into space. With the help of its three cameras, the device has already made the most detailed photograph of the asteroid at the moment. One part of it is well lit by the sun, so you can see craters, boulders and other objects up to 50 centimeters in size in the photo.

After studying the particles, the device will continue to doimages that will be used to create a detailed asteroid map. During the remaining weeks, such devices as the OLA laser altimeter, the PolyCam high-resolution camera, the OTES spectrometer for creating an infrared map and the REXIS instrument for creating an X-ray map will be actively involved.

Collecting soil samples from the Bennu asteroid

In mid-August, the unit will return to the previous1300-meter orbit, and again will photograph the surface. All this is done in order to determine the most suitable place for collecting soil in 2020. When there are only two candidates, the device will descend to the asteroid at a distance of 225 meters, and will be able to see objects of 2 cm in size. Ideally, the landing site should be flat, and not have boulders.

NASA cannot study everythingphotos of the asteroid, so in March 2019, asked for help from Internet users. About what is required from enthusiasts, you can read in our material.

Discuss this, and other news of science and technology, can be in our Telegram-chat. Also through it is convenient to follow the latest materials on our site!