The team leading NASA's first mission to take a rock sample from the asteroid Bennu has selected four sites for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to'tag'. The spacecraft has already mapped the entire Bennu meteor - dubbed the'apocalypse asteroid' - in order to identify the safest and most accessible spots to retrieve a chunk of its surface. Now, the four locations will be studied before the final two sites – a primary and backup – are selected in December, this year. The OSIRIS-REx sample collection is scheduled for the latter half of 2020, and the spacecraft will return the asteroid samples to Earth on September 24, 2023. Osprey is set in a small crater, 66 feet (20 m) in diameter, which is also located in Bennu's equatorial region at 11 degrees north latitude, while Sandpiper is located in the meteor's southern hemisphere, at 47 degrees south latitude Sites: Nightingale is the northern-most site, situated at 56 degrees north latitude on Bennu, while Kingfisher is located in a small crater near Bennu's equator at 11 degrees north latitude The four candidate sample sites on Bennu are designated Nightingale, Kingfisher, Osprey, and Sandpiper – all birds native to Egypt.
Aug-13-2019, 19:32:00 GMT