NASA is about to land on the asteroid Osiris-Rex Pennu: Here’s what happens

NASA is about to land on the asteroid Osiris-Rex Pennu: Here's what happens

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

NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona

NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft Next week a large asteroid will briefly touch and snatch some rocks and dust from its surface and return to Earth for exploration. Event refers to a Primarily for NASA And a potential boon to our understanding of science, space exploration and the solar system.

Sample collection of the Touch-and-Go (TAG) asteroid 101955 Pennu Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 3:12 p.m. The NASA DAG maneuver will be broadcast live on NASA TV Agency’s website Starts Tuesday at 2 p.m. Here’s everything you need to know about Osiris – Rex, Pennu and NASA planning to make an asteroid pickpocket.

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 and officially arrived 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, rehearsals have begun ahead of the upcoming sample collection attempt, and the team says it is now ready to play TAG with Pennu.


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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 at some point for future use on Earth or in space research.

Asteroid has another feature that is particularly interesting to scientists and humans in general – it has the potential to affect 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 there is only a one-minute chance that everyone will actually pass.

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 creates 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 pen on a rock 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 only be one robot model arm to actually set up on the surface of Osiris-Rex. One of the three compressed nitrogen canisters will stir up a sample of dust and small rocks, which will then be held in the collector’s head by hand to keep them safe and return to earth.

It takes about four hours to land on the surface of the pen, about the time it will take for the asteroid to make 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 areas on the surface of the pen, primarily covered with fine materials comparable to sand or gravel. The surface of the pen is very rough with no actual reception landings.

After re-evaluating this work over the past two years, the team decided to “thread the needle” through the boulder-filled landscape and a couple of backup sample sites in Nightingale. It is still possible to prove that the surface is too rocky to get a good pattern. If this changes, the team may choose to try again on another site. Osiris-Rex has three nitrogen canisters to shoot and decompose on the surface, meaning the team gets up to three attempts to clear a specimen.

What then?

As soon as it has collected its sample, Osiris-Rex will shoot its impulses to move away from the pen. The spacecraft will hang above the pen for the rest of 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 disassemble 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 of asteroid 25143 Idokawa To Earth in 2010. Its successor Hayapusa-2 was successful In 2019 he threw a special copper bullet at the large asteroid Ryu And then recovered some small pieces. That model is currently on its way back to Earth.

How can I see?

Follow NASA Livestream, Which will be held on Tuesday at 2 p.m. You can follow Osiris-Rex Twitter feed Get the latest updates.

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Cary Douglas

About the Author: Cary Douglas

Wayne Ma is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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