OSIRIS Rex Current Affairs

Osiris-Rex: NASA’s asteroid-bound spacecraft swings by Earth

NASA’s asteroid-chasing spacecraft Osiris-Rex successfully swung by Earth to put it on desired trajectory towards near earth asteroid Bennu using Earth’s gravity. It passed within 17,237 kilometres from Earth above Antarctica.

During closest flyby, Osiris-Rex’s science instruments were tested by scanning Earth and moon as a practice for its operations at Bennu.

OSIRIS-REx

The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) mission was launched in September 2016 for studying 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid. It is NASA’s first asteroid sampling mission. Japan already has visited an asteroid and returned some specks.

The spacecraft will reach small, roundish asteroid in 2018 and return to Earth after collecting some of its gravels by 2023. It will capture 2 ounces of dust on asteroid using its robotic arm without landing i.e. by hovering like a hummingbird stirred up by nitrogen gas thruster  and then begun its return trip to earth.

101955 Bennu is near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid about the size of a small mountain in the Apollo group. It was discovered in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project.

Significance of mission

NASA scientists believe that Bennu asteroid holds clues to origin of solar system and life and source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. Material returned from asteroid is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System. It will also give insights of initial stages of planet formation and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life on Earth.

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NASA launches OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to collect samples from Bennu asteroid

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a US space agency has launched OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to collect samples from an asteroid 101955 Bennu and return to Earth.

The spacecraft was launched onboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Key Facts

  • OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
  • It is an unmanned spacecraft and NASA’s first mission to collect samples from an asteroid and return to Earth.
  • OSIRIS-Rex will travel for two years on a journey to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid about the size of a small mountain.
  • Primary aim of the mission: To study asteroid 101955 Bennu , a carbonaceous asteroid.
  • Also to return a sample at least 60 grams dirt and debris from its surface and return to Earth in 2023 for detailed analysis.
  • NASA scientists feel that the Bennu asteroid hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
  • Significance: Material returned from asteroid 101955 Bennu is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System.
  • Besides it will give insights of initial stages of planet formation and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life on Earth.

Note: OSIRIS-Rex is NASA’s third planetary science mission selected in the New Frontiers Program, after Juno and New Horizons. 101955 Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group. It  was discovered in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project.

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