OSIRIS-REx probe reaches asteroid Bennu

Asteroid Bennu
An image taken by the OSIRIS-REx probe last month shows the asteroid Bennu from a distance of about 40 miles. (NASA / Goddard / Univ. of Arizona Photo)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx today made its official rendezvous with a promising and potentially perilous asteroid named Bennu, after two years of closing in on it.

“We have arrived,” telecommunications engineer Javi Cerna announced during a NASA webcast from mission control at Lockheed Martin Space in Colorado.

It’s a major step in OSIRIS-REx’s mission to study a near-Earth object at close range and snag samples for return to Earth in 2023.

The car-sized spacecraft has been creeping up on the 0.3-mile-wide (half-kilometer-wide), diamond-shaped space rock for weeks, but today a 28-second thruster firing stabilized its position at a point less than 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from the asteroid (and more than 75 million miles or 121 million kilometers from Earth).

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: