Tags: NASA | asteroid | mission | Bennu

NASA Asteroid Mission to Explore Potentially Hazardous Asteroid

Image: NASA Asteroid Mission to Explore Potentially Hazardous Asteroid

This artist's rendering made available by NASA on Tuesday shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Sep 2016 10:21 AM

A NASA asteroid mission is ready for blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday, when a spaceship will launch to chase down the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and collect a sample from it.

The OSIRIS-Rex Mission, short for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security- Regolith Explorer, will scoop up rock and dust samples from the asteroid that scientists think may be left over from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, according to a statement from the University of Colorado.

"We essentially will be weighing the asteroid to see how the mass is distributed within it," University of Colorado professor Daniel Scheeres, the team leader for the mission's radio science team, said in the statement.

"We need to know the mass and gravity field of the asteroid before the spacecraft comes in contact with it and to understand the sample we will collect," Scheeres added.

The mission is moving forward at Cape Canaveral even though a SpaceX rocket exploded on a launching pad in another location there on Sept. 1, according to Space.com.

"Mother Nature should cooperate as well; Air Force weather forecasters are predicting an 80 percent chance of good conditions," reported Mike Wall, the senior writer for Space.com. "Furthermore, there is no foreseen fallout from the dramatic explosion of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at a neighboring Cape Canaveral pad. That accident occurred Sept. 1 during a routine test ahead of the planned Sept. 3 launch of a communications satellite."

Tim Dunn, NASA's launch manager at the Kennedy Space Center, said during a news conference Tuesday that the Atlas V rocket used to launch the spaceship and range equipment are ready for the trip, reported Space.com.

"This is a dark asteroid that we have found and we're going to hunt down, we're going to orbit, we're going to take a good look at it and we're going to bring back a sample," Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said last month in a news briefing, according to CNN.

The OSIRIS-Rex space probe will spend two years chasing Bennu, which is on NASA's list of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids because it could one day collide with Earth.

"By visiting Bennu, we can very precisely determine its orbit, determine the physical forces affecting it, and do a much better job of predicting where it will be in the next couple of hundred years," Scheeres said in the University of Colorado statement. "By then we should know if we need to start building a giant space tugboat."

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A NASA asteroid mission is ready for blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday, when a spaceship will launch to chase down the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and collect a sample from it.
NASA, asteroid, mission, Bennu
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2016-21-07
Wednesday, 07 Sep 2016 10:21 AM
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