NASA has released images of its OSIRIS-REx probe touching an asteroid in a sample-collection attempt on October 20.
This series of 82 images shows the Touch-And-Go (TAG) event on the surface of the asteroid Bennu, 200 million miles from Earth.
“Preliminary data,” NASA said, “show the one-foot-wide (0.3-meter-wide) sampling head touched Bennu’s surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.”
NASA says Bennu may contain in its regolith a record of the “earliest history of our solar system” and even “the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans.”
Bennu is also one of “the most potentially hazardous asteroids,” NASA said, as it has a “relatively high probability of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century.” OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, the agency said, “which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission.” Credit: NASA via Storyful