NASA is thoroughly observing the asteroid Bennu through its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that is flying over the space rock for the last two years. Not long ago, the agency was able to investigate a potential landing site on the asteroid.
The OSIRIS-REx probe managed to capture a lot of photographs of the surface of asteroid Bennu, with NASA putting all the images together to form a map. A total of 2,155 PolyCam images were pieced together and corrected to create the mosaic, and with 2 inches (5 cm) per pixel, this map is the highest resolution at which a planetary body has been charted.
By October, the vehicle will leave and collect samples of the space rock from a different area known as the Nightingale. However, the space agency wants to use the mosaic map of Bennu’s surface they created from the images captured by the probe, in order to look for a backup landing region in Osprey.
The map locates Osprey in a crater at the bottom of the image just above the dark spot in the middle of the crater. Scientists are hoping to be able to get at least 60 grams of a sample of the asteroid’s surface for more analysis.
These asteroid samples will enable astronomers to learn more about the Solar System and its history, and NASA believes some minerals that may be present in Bennu could predate the Solar System itself as the asteroid is an ancient space rock. Therefore, a sample from Bennu could offer more understanding of what the Solar System was like before and maybe even the origins of life outside our planet.
In the meantime, NASA’s asteroid monitors have identified three asteroids that will travel close to Earth in the next 48 hours. All three space rocks are classified as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and do not pose any threat to Earth.