OSIRIS-REx: NASA Spacecraft starts journey to Earth

The NASA Spacecraft called the “Osiris-Rex” has started a two year long journey back to the earth. The spacecraft reached asteroid Bennu in 2018. It then spent two years flying around it and collected rubbles. Rubbles are rough fragments of brick, stones.

About the OSIRIS-Rex

  • The mission was launched to study asteroid Bennu. The mission spent 2.5 years mapping the surface of Bennu.
  • In 2020, the scientists directed Osiris Rex to drop down and collect sixty kilo grams of regolith (top soil). They also found that the asteroid has lots of accessible water.
  • The mission will help to understand the origin and evolution of solar system.

Why Bennu?

  • It is the most hazardous asteroids currently known to the earth. Meaning it has one in 2,700 chances of hitting the earth in the late 22nd century.
  • It makes its closest approach to the earth once in six years.
  • Also, the size of Bennu makes it approachable. Most of the asteroids, spin very fast. This rapid spinning makes it difficult for the spacecrafts to collect samples.

Was Bennu the first Mission to land on an Asteroid?

Japan had sent Hayabusa and the European Space Agency had sent Rosetta Mission. Thus, Bennu was not the first mission to land on an asteroid.

Hayabusa Mission

It was launched in 2014 to collect samples from Ryugu. It reached Ryugu in 2018. It spent 18 months there and returned to the earth in December 2020.

Rosetta Mission

  • The Rosetta Mission was launched by the European Space Agency to explore comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2004.
  • It was the first mission to orbit a comet. Also, it was the first mission to land a probe on its surface.

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