NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx begins the 2-year trip home with asteroid rubble | Daily Current Affairs 2021

NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx begins the 2-year trip home with asteroid rubble

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The NASA Spacecraft called the “Osiris-Rex” has started a two year long journey back to the earth.

Main Facts:

  • The spacecraft reached asteroid Bennu in 2018.
  • It then spent two years flying around it and collected rubbles.

Note: Rubbles are rough fragments of brick, stones.

  • It will be the biggest cosmic haul for the U.S. since the Apollo moon rocks.
  • While NASA has returned comet dust and solar wind samples, this is the first time it’s gone after pieces of an asteroid.
  • Japan has accomplished it twice, but in tiny amounts.

About the OSIRIS-Rex:

  • The mission launched to study asteroid Bennu spent 2.5 years mapping its surface.
  • In 2020, the scientists directed Osiris Rex to drop down and collect sixty kilo grams of regolith (top soil).
  • They also found that the asteroid has lots of accessible water.
  • The mission will help to understand the origin and evolution of solar system.

About Bennu:

  • Bennu — considered a broken chunk from a bigger asteroid — is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of the solar system.
  • It is the most hazardous asteroids currently known to the earth. Meaning it has one in 2,700 chances of hitting the earth in the late 22nd century.
  • It makes its closest approach to the earth once in six years.
  • The size of Bennu also makes it approachable.
  • Most of the asteroids spin very fast. This rapid spinning makes it difficult for the spacecrafts to collect samples.
  • The returning pieces could shed light on how the planets formed and how life arose on Earth.
  • They also could improve Earth’s odds against any incoming rocks.

Additional Info:

However, Bennu is not the first mission on an asteroid.

Hayabusa:

  • Japan had sent Hayabusa.
  • It was launched in 2014 to collect samples from Ryugu.
  • It reached Ryugu in 2018.
  • It spent 18 months there and returned to the earth in December 2020.

Rosetta Mission:

  • European Space Agency had sent Rosetta Mission to explore comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2004.
  • It was the first mission to orbit a comet.
  • It was also the first mission to land a probe on its surface.

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