Apr 2, 2021

OSIRIS-REx to make final close approach to asteroid before heading back to Earth

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

WASHINGTON — NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will make one final close approach to the asteroid it collected samples from next week before heading back to Earth.

On April 7, the spacecraft will pass 3.7 kilometers above the location on the asteroid Bennu called Nightingale where, in October, the spacecraft briefly touched down and collected as much as several hundred grams of material, now stored in the spacecraft.

Immediately after that sample collection maneuver, the mission had no plans to return to the vicinity of Bennu. However, NASA decided to make a final pass over the touchdown site to see what changes the sampling made to the Nightingale region, like the creation of a crater.

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