At just 0.2 miles per hour NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft gently landed on an asteroid Tuesday. The daring touch and go landing was the first attempt by a U.S. spacecraft to collect a sample from an asteroid. Lockheed Martin control center near Denver, where scientists and engineers tracked OSIRIS-REx, erupted in cheers when viewing the on target touchdown within a predetermined zone the size of a tennis court, avoiding a craggy 23-foot-tall (7-meter) nearby boulder that scientists dubbed “Mount Doom.” A robotic arm extended from the spacecraft and briefly contacted the rugged surface of asteroid dubbed Bennu. Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999.
Its brief encouter was a a climactic moment as it gobbled up samples, in the $1 billion mission to bring asteroid material back to Earth in 2023. After spending just seconds on the asteroid’s surface, OSIRIS-REx pulsed thrusters to back away from Bennu. The spacecraft has the ability to fly around the asteroid with tiny impulses from its rocket engines, thanks to Bennu’s very weak gravity field. On Saturday, controllers are scheduled to command OSIRIS-REx into a spin maneuver to measure its moment of inertia. Engineers will compare the results to a similar maneuver before the sampling run, yielding an estimate of how much mass the spacecraft grabbed from Bennu. Learn more at Planetary.org
Meanwhile it is rumored that Elon Musk has his eye on Asteroid Mining. No details on how he plans to extract $700 Quintillion Worth of Space Gold. But, the thought is that there is a particular asteroid out there that is made up of precious metals, most importantly gold! Elon Musk’s SpaceX is definitely going places like their plans with NASA to go to the moon amongst others but an interesting video on YouTube explained that there could be another agenda that these Elon Musk and NASA have.Share: