NASA appointed its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in 2016 for examining the Bennu asteroid and bring some samples back home for further analysis. Bennu is a carbonaceous near-Earth object, and it can hold answers for essential questions about our solar system.
While reaching an altitude of 40 meters above the Nightingale site that’s located within one of Bennu’s craters, NASA’s spacecraft performed an exciting maneuver that was captured on beautiful footage below:
NASA describes the video as following:
“Captured on Aug. 11 during the second rehearsal of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, this series of images shows the SamCam imager’s field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches asteroid Bennu’s surface. The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through the first three maneuvers of the sampling sequence to a point approximately 131 feet (40 meters) above the surface, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.”
The space agency further explains that the images were captured during a period of 13.5 minutes. The imaging sequence begins at about 420 feet (128 meters) above the asteroid’s surface. This means before the spacecraft performs the “Checkpoint” maneuver and crosses through to the “Matchpoint” maneuver. The last image was taken about 44 meters above the surface of the Bennu asteroid.
The Bennu asteroid (scientifically known as 101955 Bennu) was discovered by the LINEAR Project more than two decades ago, on September 1999. The space object measures 262.5 meters in radius, 78 billion kg for its mass, and it has an orbital period of 438 days. 101955 Bennu also has a mean diameter of 490 meters (1,610 ft; 0.30 mi).
Last year, NASA made the exciting announcement that its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft got very close to the Bennu asteroid – it captured an image at a distance of 600 meters from the cosmic object’s surface.