Bennu's rugged surface erupting plumes may change NASA's landing plans

22 March, 2019, 20:30 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • NASA scientists are shocked by plumes seen erupting from surface of asteroid Bennu

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has only been orbiting the asteroid Bennu for a few months but mission scientists have already learned new details about the near-Earth asteroid that is 70 million miles away, according to a NASA announcement.

Curiously, however, at least four larger chunks of debris have remained in orbit around Bennu, potentially forming micro moons. Now the team is looking for smaller areas to target, and adjusting its sampling plan to do a more precise touch-and-go maneuver. The origin of these plumes and what exactly triggers them remains a mystery.

"That has never been seen before in any solar-system object", Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson told Marina Koren at The Atlantic.

The mission team is now updating its plans for sample collection, known as Touch-and-Go (TAG); the new approach, called Bullseye TAG, aims to accurately target smaller sites.

Think your friends would be interested?

'Bennu has issued us a challenge to deal with its rugged terrain, and we are confident that OSIRIS-Rex is up to the task, ' says Rich Burns, the project manager of OSIRIS-REx at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there is just getting started", Lauretta said.

An artist's concept of the OSIRIS-REx's sample collection instrument TAGSAM. Image courtesy NASA
An artist's concept of the OSIRIS-REx's sample collection instrument TAGSAM. Image courtesy NASA

The OSIRIS-REx team also didn't anticipate the number and size of boulders on Bennu's surface. Not only is Bennu shooting particles out into the void, but the asteroid is also much more rugged than scientists originally thought - which may make it a little bit harder for the spacecraft to grab a sample. A ridge round Bennu's equator is likely one of the asteroid's most outstanding options, together with quite a few boulders, a few of that are as large as a multi-story workplace constructing.

"The first three months of OSIRIS-REx's up-close investigation of Bennu have reminded us what discovery is all about - surprises, quick thinking and flexibility", said Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division.

Professor Trevor Ireland, from ANU, will analyse samples of the asteroid once they are returned to Earth in 2023. One concept into consideration by OSIRIS-REx's science workforce is that the plume outbursts could be associated with Bennu's place in its orbit across the solar. Consequently, NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission - one of the most ambitious space missions ever attempted - is studying the distant asteroid to unlock its secrets.

"That gives me confidence they will be able to attempt a sample acquisition", he said.

Bennu is slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, according to NASA. "We study asteroids like Bennu to learn about the origin of the solar system". But the team is particularly eager to sample a site high in magnetite, as it could paint a picture of how much water and organic material was present in Bennu's past. The asteroid is on an oval-formed path that takes it directly inside Earth's orbit at its closest level to the solar, and there's a 1-in-2,700 likelihood Bennu might influence Earth late within the 22nd century. However, Bennu is a carbonaceous (or C-type) asteroid composed of various rocks and minerals with a smattering of carbon-containing compounds.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank - Palestinian medics; Israel reviewing
Israeli soldiers say the two men threw explosives from a vehicle . Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

New Zealand marks one week since mosque terrorist attack with prayers
Now, less than a week later, the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden banned all military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Daily or high-potency cannabis increases risk of psychotic disorder, study says
Additionally, 30 percent of new psychosis cases diagnosed in London were also associated with high strains of the drug. In London, 94 per cent of the cannabis sold on the street is skunk, which has an average THC of 14.

Recommended:



Popular

Biden Tells Supporters He's Running For President
O'Rourke raised $6.1 million in the 24 hours after his announcement, while Mr. Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. "I dream about Biden".

U.S. sanctions Chinese companies for violating embargoes on North Korea
It combined South Korean capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor. "We don't think the deal is broken", he said. The North said it "is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority", according to the ministry.

Beavers Set to Host First Two Rounds of NCAA Tournament
Join the Badger Of Honor team! A team that became accustomed to winning this year should have a much tougher time in March. The Badgers (23-10) accomplished a major mission by getting back to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence.

Ichiro To Retire After Thursdays Game In Tokyo
His worldwide impact is unrivaled, and his 4,367 professional hits is a number unmatched by any player in baseball history. In just the second game of the season, he went over the wall in left field to rob Cleveland's Jose Ramirez of a home run.

Marcus Smart Fined $50,000 For Shoving Joel Embiid
The two teams were already going to be must-see television if they met in the National Basketball Association playoffs. Joel Embiid is the master troll of the National Basketball Association and was at it again on Wednesday.

Brexit: Theresa May to urge MPs to back deal as delay agreed
Were it not to receive this undertaking, the European Union would let Britain fall out of the bloc without a deal. A first-ever leaders dinner debate over the EU's China policy at the summit was delayed until Friday, for example.

Top 10 Liverpool strikers of the Premier League era - #5
So it leaves behind only the FA Cup and we would not be surprised if Pep Guardiola tries to nick this game from Brighton by playing a second-string side at Wembley. "He is doing fantastic so I am really pleased for him".

Facebook passwords stored in plain text
These include hashing and salting the credentials, and using the scrypt password-based key derivation function. But Facebook apparently did not become aware of the issue until January.

Pentagon lists possible project cuts to pay for border wall
The Pentagon has not said which of the hundreds of projects on the list would be cut or delayed to build the wall. An additional 10,000 were detained after presenting at a port of entry without proper paperwork.

Judge Orders Release of Redacted Cohen Raid Documents
The filings reveal that in July 2017, when Cohen was still referring to himself as the "personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the women, and said his campaign did not collude with Russian Federation .