Updates‎ > ‎

2019-03-19. The Asteroid Was Shooting Rocks Into Space. ‘Were We Safe in Orbit?’

posted Mar 26, 2019, 9:51 AM by Alan Gould
By Kenneth Chang and Shannon Stirone, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/science/bennu-ryugu-asteroids.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: HOUSTON — The asteroid Bennu, with the shape of a spinning top, turns out to be extremely rugged. That is going to make it difficult for a NASA spacecraft, Osiris-Rex, to vacuum up a sample to take back to Earth. It was designed to collect sand and gravel, not boulders. In addition, Bennu is shooting back. “We are seeing Bennu regularly eject material into outer space,” said Dante Lauretta, Osiris-Rex’s principal investigator.... The NASA spacecraft, which launched in 2016, entered orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31. It is not the only spacecraft from Earth exploring an asteroid. Hayabusa2, launched by Japan’s space agency in 2014, began orbiting the asteroid Ryugu last year. Its mission is also to collect samples for return to our planet for study, .... Both missions have found that the objects they are studying have terrain much more jagged than anticipated. But while Hayabusa2 already collected its first sample from Ryugu’s surface last month, the particles erupting from Bennu posed an additional challenge for the Osiris-Rex mission....