Soon, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will meet the asteroid (101955) Bennu for the last time. The date and plan of the mission to study the space object was announced at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
In less than a week, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will make its last flyby of asteroid Bennu to take pictures of its surface. During the flyby, the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a distance of 3.7 km. There has not been such an approach to the asteroid since the collection of samples on October 20, 2020.
Then the automatic station OSIRIS-REx, launched in 2016, successfully coped with its main task: it came into contact with the named space object and captured soil particles. The procedure was performed using a 3.35 meter TAGSAM (Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism) manipulator.
The goal of the researchers was to collect at least 60 grams of rocks. In case of insufficient mass of samples, scientists planned to repeat the procedure of touching the asteroid in the first half of January. However, this was not required. The probe managed to collect a lot of samples, but some of them were lost.
On April 7, OSIRIS-REx will be filming Bennu for 5.9 hours. This is slightly more than the full rotation period of the asteroid. During this time, the spacecraft’s thermal imager, the PolyCam, will acquire high-resolution images of Bennu’s northern and southern hemispheres and its equatorial region. The team will then compare these new images with previous images of the asteroid taken in 2019.