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 Post subject: Rendezvous with Bennu
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:22 pm 
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Location: Lancashire
Since the successful arrival of Nasa's asteroid probe Osiris-Rex to asteroid Bennu last week, the probe will spend the next year surveying the surface of the object and finding a suitable landing site for surface sampling.
When a suitable landing site has been found, the probe will descend, land for about five seconds, and fire a jet of nitrogen gas onto the surface to collect a sample of material. Three sampling attempts will be made to collect between 60g and 2000g of material, before heading back to Earth in 2021 and arriving in 2023.
Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid, so a test for "Yarkovsky acceleration" will be made. This is a force that acts on rotating bodies in space caused by the uneven release of heat from the body's surface. There's a possibility that Bennu could eventually collide with Earth at some point in the future, and it might be possible to use solar radiation to heat up one side of the asteroid to change its rotation and orbital trajectory.
"The spacecraft will also look for plumes of natural satellites orbiting Bennu, and instruments will enable us to identify different chemicals on the asteroid," said Kathryn Harriss, post-doctorate research associate in planetary science at Kent University. "This will help finding the richest sampling sites. The biggest challenge will be the landing," she said. "Let's hope it all goes to plan, as one day it could help to save our world."

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