NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to collect Bennu samples has finally determined when the asteroid will land for the first time,media reported. Later this year, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will land at a pre-determined location, collect some sample material from the asteroid’s surface, then return to space and eventually bring the sampleback back to Earth, according to the space agency.
Bennu is a huge asteroid with surprising rocks on its surface, but it adds an unexpected layer of complexity to the mission. So far, OSIRIS-REx has sent back a number of photos of the asteroid, some of which were taken as it approached space rocks.
Since December 2018, OSIRIS-REx has been running around Bennu and collecting data. Using the data, the researchers used the data to determine the best place to collect samples and some spare sites. In April, NASA conducted a preview of its planned sample collection.
Overall, the OSIRIS-REx mission team will have an additional two months to prepare, and they will conduct another preview before the actual sample collection, which is expected to take place on August 11.
For now, NASA is still locking Bennu’s sampling site at the previously announced Nightingale sample site.