NASA Mission Is Leaving Asteroid Bennu and You Can Now See the Mark-It Left

NASA’s Osiris-RX is just a few weeks before the planet’s asteroid Bennu left behind for good. On October 20, the NASA spacecraft made a brief touch on the asteroid’s surface (touch-and-go technique or tag) and collected soil samples, and soon it will come to Earth. During the tag, the spacecraft’s sampling head sinks to about half a meter (1.6 feet) in the ground, releasing a charge of nitrogen gas to lift the soil into the collection chamber.

In April, the OSIRIS-RX flew just 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) from Bennu, the closest it has been since the tag. In addition, the team took this flyby once to see what effect TAG would have. Dathon Golish, a member of the OSIRIS-REx image processing working group, said in a statement, “Bennu is rough and rocky, so if you look at it from another angle or when the sun is not directly on the surface, it captures, which dramatically changes the look of the surface.”

“These images were deliberately taken around noon, with no direct shadows shining directly with the sun.” OSIRIS-Rex has left a big old mark on Bennu. The surface interrupted in three ways. By the time the spacecraft landed, by the tag event, and finally by the spacecraft’s retrorockets when it was moved.

“These observations were not part of the original mission plan, so we were encouraged to go back and document our work,” Golish said. “The team has really come together for this last defeat.” Bennu covers about 550 meters (1800 feet). 

“These images were deliberately taken around noon, with no direct shadows shining directly with the sun.” OSIRIS-Rex has left a big old mark on Bennu. The surface interrupted in three ways. By the time the spacecraft landed, by the tag event, and finally by the spacecraft’s retrorockets when it was moved. “These observations were not part of the original mission plan, so we were encouraged to go back and document our work,” Golish said. “The team has really come together for this last defeat.” Bennu covers about 550 meters (1800 feet). OSIRIS-Rex will leave the asteroid on May 10; the sample return capsule expected to deliver to Earth on September 24, 2023.