The Bennu asteroid captured the attention of astronomers, and NASA sent the Osiris-Rex spacecraft there to take a closer look. The final flyby took place on April 7, and new pictures are revealing the rubble left behind.
Phys.org brings the news of the mess left behind by NASA’s spacecraft on the asteroid, adding that a depression is visible where Osiris-Rex penetrated the surface of the asteroid.
The description writes:
Like boot prints on the Moon, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft left its mark on asteroid Bennu. Now, new images — taken during the spacecraft’s final fly-over on April 7, 2021 — reveal the aftermath of the historic Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample acquisition event from October 20, 2020.
OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, and Regolith Explorer. The mission’s main goal was to obtain a sample from the 1101955 asteroid. Scientists aim to analyze the material brought to our planet to find out more about the evolution of the Solar System. They also hope to find the source of organic compounds that caused the emergence of life on Earth.
OSIRIS-Rex was launched by NASA in September 2016; it flew past our planet a year later and met Bennu in December 2018. After the spacecraft spent several months analyzing the surface to find the right site to extract a sample, it was mission accomplished in December 2020.
101955 Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid located in the Apollo group and discovered by the LINEAR Project in September 1999. The space rock is also a potentially hazardous object, as it has a radius of about 262.5 meters. There’s no data indicating that Bennu would ever be on a collision course with Earth, fortunately. But even if it would be, it will be no significant threat for our planet.