NASA Selects Landing Site For OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft On Asteroid Written 13 December 2019


Artist's rendition of OSIRIS-REx | NASA

The New York Times reports that on Thursday at the American Geophysical Union Conference, NASA announced that “after a difficult year of mapping” the surface of asteroid Bennu, it had located a target landing site for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta said, “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.” The site also has high scientific value – its northern latitude means “more of the material the spacecraft collects could be preserved from when the asteroid first formed.” Despite having found a suitable landing site, “OSIRIS-REx will only land on the surface of Bennu for a split quickly snatch a sample before heading back to a safe distance.” The asteroid’s “rocky terrain posed risks to a safe landing” as well as “technical challenges” for Tagsam, the spacecraft’s collection tool.
Full Story (New York Times)