NASA to Attempt to Gather Samples from Asteroid Bennu Tuesday Written 19 October 2020


Artist's rendition of OSIRIS-REx | NASA

The AP reported that on Tuesday, NASA will attempt to gather samples from asteroid Bennu. NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission “is looking to bring back at least 2 ounces (60 grams) worth of asteroid Bennu, the biggest otherworldly haul from beyond the moon.” The spacecraft is aiming to touch down on a crater named Nightingale. Once “it drops out of its half-mile-high (0.75 kilometer-high) orbit around Bennu, the spacecraft will take a deliberate four hours to make it all the way down, to just above the surface.” Then, Osiris-Rex’s “11-foot (3.4-meter) arm” will reach out to make contact with the asteroid. Contact “should last five to 10 seconds, just long enough to shoot out pressurized nitrogen gas and suck up the churned dirt and gravel.” Due to an “18-minute lag in radio communication each way, ground controllers for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin near Denver can’t intervene” in the autonomous sample collection. 
Full Story (Associated Press)