NASA has captured an incredible close-up shot of plumes of dust and rocks erupting from the surface of near-Earth asteroid Bennu as it spins through the solar system. Researchers from the University of Arizona have been studying the images taken by the navigation camera on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The high-resolution images were taken as part of a NASA mission to bring samples of the asteroid - that is about 300,000miles away - back to Earth for scientists to study. These images offer a detailed look at small-scale rock and particle loss from an active asteroid for the first time, say researchers. Previous studies have been limited to only the largest ejections seen from Earth.
This illustration shows Osiris-Rex touching asteroid Bennu during a sample collection operation. We know it can be done. Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft triumphantly scooped up a bit of asteroid Ryugu before heading home. NASA hopes it will soon have similar success with Osiris-Rex, their latest robot wonder built to land not on a planet or a moon, but the asteroid Bennu. It's going to be challenging.
OSIRIS-REx is NASA's first mission to an asteroid to retrieve a sample and return it to Earth. 'X' marks the spot as NASA prepares for a historic asteroid mission. NASA has selected the site on asteroid Bennu where its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will retrieve a sample of space rock. Scientists identified four potential sites before picking a spot dubbed "Nightingale" that is located in Bennu's northern hemisphere. ASTEROID BENNU IS SHOOTING OUT ROCKS – AND NASA ISN'T SURE WHY "After thoroughly evaluating all four candidate sites, we made our final decision based on which site has the greatest amount of fine-grained material and how easily the spacecraft can access that material while keeping the spacecraft safe," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, in a statement.
An asteroid-circling spacecraft has captured a unique snapshot of home. NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft took the picture days before going into orbit around asteroid Bennu on New Year's Eve. The tiny asteroid - barely one-third of a mile (500 meters) across - appears as a big bright blob in the long-exposure photo released last week. NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft took the picture before going into orbit around asteroid Bennu. Seventy million miles (110 million kilometers) away, Earth appears as a white dot in the lower left, with the moon an even smaller dot but still clearly visible.
Tomorrow Nasa hopes to launch a spacecraft on its journey towards an asteroid, where it will collect and return samples that experts believe may hold the building blocks of life. Nasa's OSRIS-REx spacecraft will travel for two years to reach Bennu, and plans to return to Earth in 2023. Fitted with sensors, the craft will map out the surface of the asteroid in order to address basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system. Nasa will launch a spacecraft on its journey towards an asteroid, where it will collect and return samples that experts believe may hold the building blocks of life. Nasa's OSIRIS-REx will travel for two years to reach Bennu (illustration pictured) Thanks to observations from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists already know the roundish Bennu is about 1,600 feet (487 metres) across at its bulging middle and the colour of coal, indicative of carbon richness.