Monday, December 5, 2022

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sees bennu from all sides

This set of images shows the asteroid Bennu rotating for one full revolution.

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Two years after its launch, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is closing in on a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu and sending back pictures that provide one gem of a 360-degree view.

Last Friday, OSIRIS-REx captured imagery over the course of a four-hour, 11-minute period to take in a full rotation of the diamond-shaped space rock from a distance of about 122 miles.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx sees Bennu from all sides
Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The view is whetting astronomers’ appetite for even closer looks at Bennu, which is currently about 80 million miles from Earth. Over the next few weeks, OSIRIS-REx will carefully survey the quarter-mile-wide asteroid’s terrain as it edges closer.

During December, it’ll execute three flybys, coming within just a few miles of the surface. And early next year, it’ll settle into a close-in orbit and conduct a months-long survey.

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