27 August 2018
The Orlando Sentinel reported that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured its first images of the Bennu asteroid last week as part of a mission to land on the object, “collect small samples and return them to Earth.” According to OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, the event “really represents the beginning of the great scientific experiment that is OSIRIS-REx.” Scientists believe that Bennu is 4.5 billion years old and formed with the solar system, potentially offering “clues about the origin of life.” A Lockheed Martin-designed arm aboard the spacecraft will be used to “suck up samples from the surface of Bennu in 2020, before the spacecraft heads back to Earth.” The OSIRIS-REx team believes that some ice “may have gotten caught in Bennu when it formed and later melted.” If broken down into oxygen and hydrogen, such ice could be used to create rocket fuel, which “opens asteroids as potential future fuel depots,” and according to Lauretta, could “further human and robotic exploration.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)