NASA landed on the asteroid Pennu. What you need to know about the mission


The artist’s concept of NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft collects a sample from the asteroid Pennu.

NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

Editor’s note: Osiris-Rex touches the pen. Our coverage of the event is here. Below are our answers to all your questions about the mission.

NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft In short Touched on a large asteroid NASA will return to Earth for exploration on Tuesday to swipe some rocks and dust off its surface. The first volume of images was revealed. Event refers to a Primarily for NASA Possible boon to our understanding of science, space exploration and the solar system.

Touch-and-Go, or TAG, asteroid model collection 101955 Pennu P.T. at 3:12 p.m. The NASA DAG maneuver was broadcast live on NASA TV Agency’s website. At the end of this section you will find a livestream re-tracking. To answer your other pen questions, read on.

When did the work begin?

Osiris-Rex As a concept At least since 2004, a team of astronomers first proposed the idea to NASA. After more than a decade of development, the spacecraft Launched September 8, 2016 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, On top of the Atlas V rocket of the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The spacecraft traveled to Penn for the next 26 months, officially arriving on December 3, 2018.

Since then, the mission team has been orbiting the diamond-shaped space rock for nearly two years, surveying and mapping its surface to select the best sample location. In recent months, the rehearsal has led to a sample collection effort.

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Why Pennu?

Pennu is also known as the “Ruined Heap” asteroid, which formed in deep cosmic times when gravity slowly forced the remnants of an ancient collision together. The result is a one-third of a mile (500 meters) in diameter and a body-like surface surrounded by large boulders and boulders.

Pennu is considered a window into the past of the solar system: a beautiful, carbon-rich body that carries the building blocks of both planets and life. Some of these resources, such as water and metals, are worth mining for future use on Earth or in space research.

Asteroid has another characteristic that is particularly interesting to scientists and humans in general – it has the potential to affect the Earth in the distant future. Ann List of NASA attack risks, Pennu is in 2nd place. Current data show dozens of potential impacts of the last quarter of the 22nd century, although everyone has only a minute chance of actually passing.

How does TAG work?

For anyone who has ever been involved with robots or entered a robotics competition, the Osiris-Rex mission may seem like the ultimate culmination of a young robotist’s dream. The touch-and-go modeling process is a complex, high-stakes task that has been creating a critical climate moment for many years. If it succeeds, it will play a role in history and our future in space.

The basic plan is for Osiris-Rex to touch the rock with a pen Landing site known as Nightingale. The van-sized spacecraft should negotiate building-sized boulders around the landing area, with the relatively clear space being as large as a few parking spaces. However, there will be only one robot model arm actually set on the surface of Osiris-Rex. One of the three compressed nitrogen bottles will stir up a sample of dust and small rocks, which will then be caught on the collector’s head by hand to keep them safe and return to Earth.

It takes about four hours to descend to the surface of the pen, about the time it takes for the asteroid to create a complete revolution. After this slow approach, the actual TAG sample collection process will last significantly less than 16 seconds.

Preparing for TAG did not go exactly as planned. Mission organizers initially believed that there would be numerous landing sites on the surface of the pen, primarily covered with fine materials comparable to sand or gravel. The surface of the pen is very rough without actual reception landing spots.

After re-evaluating this work over the past two years, the team decided to “thread the needle” through the rock-filled terrain at Nightingale.

It paid off for everything, so far. Osiris-Rex was able to touch the bottom, But we do not know whether it collected a sample until late October. Fortunately, if the tag fails, the spacecraft can retry – it has three nitrogen canisters to shoot and decompose the surface, meaning the team gets up to three attempts to capture a sample.

What then?

As soon as it collects its sample, Osiris-Rex shoots its impulses to retreat from the pen. The spacecraft will continue to hover over Penn in late 2020, before finally making the maneuver to depart next year and begin a two-year journey back to Earth.

On September 24, 2023, Osiris-Rex plans to dismantle its model revenue capsule, which will land in the Utah Desert and be recovered for exploration.

Has this not been done before?

Yes. Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft successfully returns small grains Asteroid 25143 Idokawa To Earth in 2010. Its successor, Hayapusa-2, In 2019 he threw a special copper bullet at the large asteroid Ryu And then recovered some small pieces. That model is on its way back to Earth.

How can I see?

The CNET Highlights Channel broadcast the event live. Check out the stream below:

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