Recent reports revealed that NASA’s OSIRIS- REx probe is ready to make history but they feel that their agency is not taking any chances. In a few months, this OSIRIS is expected to descend to the asteroid Bennu’s surface to pick up a sample.
But before this happens, NASA wanted to make sure to have a closer look at the area before sending the spacecraft swooping down. The mission has just completed the lowest pass over the site which is about 820 feet from the surface.
The scientists who are behind the mission OSIRIS-REx were met with the same problem previously as JAXA researcher’s running Japan’s mission named Hayabusa 2 – and claimed that the asteroids are much smoother than we expect.
The surfaces of both space rocks are made out of boulders and outcroppings which lead to less damage to a space probe that is attempting to reach the surface. This Japan instrument eventually found a suitable place where it can tap the surface and thereby scooping a few grains of dust. However, the OSIRIS-REx has to extend the contract for a longer time to collect at least 2.1 ounces of material which comes to around 60gms.
Last year, NASA claimed that it identified several landing zones for OSIRIS-REx and after many trials, the location called Nightingale won as this gravel-covered pit which is located near the asteroid’s the North Pole doesn’t have any major obstacles and the nearest hazard would be 23-foot high boulder that is around 52 feet away from the pit’s center. The 5-hour flyover helped NASA in verifying the safety of this area to further carry on the mission.