After a four-year journey, the Osiris-Rex probe of the US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will directly touch the surface of asteroid Bennu to collect specimens brought back to Earth on May 20 10 (ie October 21 in Vietnam time).
It is known that astronomers in Vietnam can start monitoring this special event at 4:00 am on October 21, 2020 on NASA’s official website or Youtube channel.
The Osiris-Rex’s robotic arm will only touch the surface of Bennu for 5 – 10 seconds to collect rock and dust samples.
Bennu is a carbon asteroid capable of colliding with Earth, discovered on September 11, 1999 by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Agency (LINEAR). The asteroid is almost spherical with an average diameter of about 492 m. Bennu’s surface is mainly composed of rocky plateaus, craters, ridges, and quartz.
According to NASA, The Osiris-Rex is expected to land in an area called Nightingale on the surface of Bennu. This is a rocky area on the surface, about 16m wide. The size of a truck, this was a very difficult and risky task for the Osiris-Rex, as the ship had to avoid the surrounding rocks. Accordingly, the ship’s robotic arm will only touch the surface of Bennu for 5-10 seconds to collect rock and dust samples.
Under the plan, Osiris-Rex will collect at least 57 grams of the specimen on Bennu, before returning to Earth on September 24, 2023. This is the largest volume of specimen brought back from outer space to Earth since the Apollo program. Scientists hope this mission will help shed light on how planets in the solar system form, as well as explore possible asteroid effects on Earth.
The asteroid Bennu is located 334 million km away from Earth.
It is known that the collection of specimens on the surface of planet Bennu initially encountered great problems because NASA could not find a surface large enough and relatively flat for the Osiris-Rex to land. The ship itself is designed to land on a flat surface with a radius of 25m, but images sent back to Earth in December 2018 show that the surface of the 490m diameter asteroid is heavily covered by rock solid. Therefore, the research team must consider other options.
In addition, since the asteroid Bennu is located approximately 207 million miles (334 million km) from Earth, the signal transmission time will take up to 18.5 minutes. This makes it difficult to control the Osiris-Rex directly. Therefore, the Osiris-Rex will need to perform an automatic meteoric collection process.
Refer to Science Alert