New York: National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) OSIRIS-REx is going to collect samples of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, according to a release.
Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will be the third planetary mission as a part of its New Frontier Program.
The OSIRIS-REx without landing on the surface of Bennu will use a robotic arm which is called Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) instrument. This instrument will pick up loose dust and rocks from the surface which is also called regolith particles, after that, the sampler head located at the head of the arm will collect the regolith.
Bennu is an asteroid near-earth and the scientists believe that it may contain important information about life on earth.
According to NASA, Bennu is a primitive asteroid which may have been formed “in the first 10 million years of our solar system’s history — over 4.5 billion years ago.”
It is estimated that its birthplace will be most likely in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Though, Bennu absorbs the sunlight and re-emits that energy as heat, which is also known as the Yarkovsky effect, it has come closer and now classified as a near-earth asteroid.
The organisation also pointed that the asteroid could be rich in resources like platinum and gold and the mission will allow scientists to study “whether asteroid mining during deep-space exploration and travel is feasible,” as quoted by Hindustan Times.
NASA will broadcast the collected samples on Wednesday morning at 3:42 am according to Indian Standard Time (IST). The live coverage of the TAG mission will start on NASA’s website at 3:00 am.
According to Nasa, “Bennu is a primordial artefact preserved in the vacuum of space, orbiting among planets and moons and asteroids and comets. Because it is so old, Bennu could be made of a material containing molecules that were present when life first formed on Earth.”
The space agency has also asked the viewers to use the hashtag #ToBennuandBack to ask questions about the mission on the Twitter handle @OSIRISREx, as it will also broadcast the mission.