Asianet News English

NASA spacecraft is on a 200 million mile journey back to Earth with asteroid rubble

The spacecraft, which spent two years surveying the asteroid's surface before collecting samples of rubbles from the surface last fall, will return to Earth by September 2023.

NASA spacecraft returning to Earth with asteroid rubble-VPN
Author
New Delhi, First Published May 12, 2021, 4:18 PM IST
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Whatsapp

NASA's OSIRIS REx spacecraft has initiated its 200 million mile journey back to Earth after collecting rubble from asteroid Bennu. 

The spacecraft, which spent two years surveying the asteroid's surface before collecting samples of rubbles from the surface last fall, will return to Earth by September 2023.

The robotic prospector, OSIRIS REx, arrived at the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in October 2018, more than 200 million miles from Earth (321 million kilometres). 

OSIRIS-REx carries more than 60 grams of asteroid dust and fragment samples from Nightingale, the codename given to the sample collection site.

While comet dust and solar wind samples have been returned to Earth in various missions conducted by NASA, this is the first time it's gone after pieces of an asteroid. Japan has accomplished this kind of mission twice but in tiny amounts.

Bennu has been termed as a potentially hazardous asteroid that could be a threat to Earth one day. 

NASA scientists and researchers are keen on using the asteroid sample to understand the solar system's origins. 

Asteroid Bennu, which makes a close approach to Earth every six years, is as tall as the Empire State Building. However, 20-40% of its volume is empty space. The asteroid is classified as a threat to Earth because if it starts to rotate faster or interacts with a planetary body, it would shatter and fly apart.

Interesting Fact: Asteroid Bennu's original designation was 1999 RQ36. In 2013, a third-grade student named Michael Puzio won a contest to name the asteroid.

Follow Us:
Download App:
  • android
  • ios