Data from OSIRIS-REx reveals loose surface of asteroid Bennu and “early aging” of asteroids

Recently analyzed data from an asteroid surface-sample collection performed by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has revealed that asteroid 101955 Bennu’s surface regolith is much looser than previously thought. Had OSIRIS-REx not fired its thrusters to back away from Bennu after collecting its sample, the spacecraft likely would’ve sunk straight into Bennu’s surface. What’s more, additional data from OSIRIS-REx’s sample collection revealed that surface regeneration occurs much quicker on asteroids than on Earth. Bennu’s loose surface At 22:13 UTC (6:13 PM EDT) on October 20, 2020, OSIRIS-REx, with its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) sample collection arm extended, successfully touched down on the surface of asteroid 101955 Bennu. Following surface contact, OSIRIS-REx engaged its sample collection system, filling the TAGSAM head with regolith from the surface of Bennu. OSIRIS-REx then fired its thrusters and backed away from Bennu, completing the sample collection process in less than five seconds. Since its sample collection, OSIRIS-REx has left Bennu and is currently en route to Earth. Just before it flies by Earth, it will release the sample capsule into the atmosphere for retrieval by NASA teams following a touchdown at the Utah Test and Training Range in the United States.  However, scientists have been continuously analyzing…

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Data from OSIRIS-REx reveals loose surface of asteroid Bennu and “early aging” of asteroids

Updated: July 26, 2022 — 10:26 am