NASA has sent a mission to stop a potentially dangerous asteroid. While the danger is in name only, it nevertheless exists.
NASA launched its space probe which is named OSIRIS-REx. The goal is the pursuit of Bennu which is a dark, potentially dangerous asteroid. This mission will take samples of soil from the asteroid and send them back to our home planet.
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NASA has been seen to do it once again as an agency which sends probes into regions where no one has gone before. It is a reason for celebration and jubilation that NASA is on its way to an asteroid.
OSIRIS-REx took off from Cape Canaveral at 7:05 pm ET atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch went perfectly. The spacecraft was in ideal form and the mission covered its early goals with alacrity and acumen.
The greatest thing for ground control will be seeing Bennu for the very first time. Within the next two years, pics of Bennu will start arriving on earth. While this scenario resembles the 1998 film Armageddon, it doesn’t have Bruce Willis in it.
OSIRIS-REx will study and take samples of soil and rock from Bennu. Bennu is on the list of potentially dangerous asteroids. The fact that it could one fine day collide with the planet earth is reason for the utmost alarmism.
By August 2018, the probe will land on Bennu. For a period of several months it will take pics, scan the asteroid and map every inch of it. Only later on will it actually take samples of soil and rock from its surface and send them back home to earth.
In July 2020, OSIRIS-REx will send its giant robotic arm into the soil of the asteroid. In a matter of 5 seconds flat, the jet of nitrogen gas sent by the arm will force a volley of soil and rocks to erupt. From this the arm will collect a sample or two for analysis.
The probe is almost like a space vacuum cleaner. Anywhere from 2 ounces to 4.4 pounds of rocks will be collected from Bennu. The surface is supposed to be composed of gravel.
The mission will set on its journey back home in 2021. It will enter the atmosphere of earth in 2023. This probe will not make a normal landing. Rather it will send in a capsule containing the rock samples via a parachute. Bennu will make its pathway near the earth in 2135.
While that is still some way off, it is close enough for us to get a little worried. The odds are 1 in 2500 of the asteroid colliding with the earth. Yet they are there and so something must be done about Bennu.