Asteroid Bennu is Everything the OSIRIS-REx Mission Planners Hoped it Would Be

This series of images taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft shows Bennu in one full rotation from a distance of around 50 miles (80 km). The spacecraft’s PolyCam camera obtained the thirty-six 2.2-millisecond frames over a period of four hours and 18 minutes. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona.

The first results are in from the OSIRIS-REx mission and they couldn’t please researchers more. Asteroid Bennu is everything they had hoped it would be based on the data obtained so far. It also has provided a few surprises.

The topic of today’s SpaceQ podcast is the NASA led OSIRIS-REx mission with its ongoing multi-year mission to rendezvous, examine and sample asteroid Bennu. The acronym OSIRIS-REx stands for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer mission.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched on September 8th, 2016. Canada is participating in the mission by providing the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter or OLA, which will create a 3-D map of asteroid Bennu’s shape along with helping with navigation. The mission will continue until March 2021 when the spacecraft will return to Earth arriving 2 1/2 years later in September 2023. At that point the sample return capsule will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in Utah where it will be collected and analyzed by researchers, including in Canada.

The official rendezvous occurred on December 3rd. Leading up to the rendezvous several instruments on the spacecraft have already been analyzing the asteroid.

Today’s episode has two segments. In the first I speak Dr. Michael Daly a professor at York University who is the principal Investigator of the Canadian Science Team. The second segment features the first results as discussed on Monday, December 10th at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Listen in.

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About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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