Science

NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft beams back astonishing pic of Earth and Moon in a single frame

earthandmoon

The US space agency NASA has released a breathtaking image of the day where the space agency has shown a divine view of Earth and the Moon lurking in space. The amazing view Earth of was captured by OSIRIS-REx spacecraft whose mission is to examine and return samples from asteroid Bennu, a carbon-rich hunk of rock that might contain organic materials or molecular precursors to life.

The spacecraft beamed back the images of Earth and the Moon on October 2, 2017, captured by its OSIRIS-REx’s MapCam instrument. The probe was nearly 3 million miles away from Earth while shooting the composite image. The spacecraft took 3 different images of Earth and Moon, and scientists at NASA later stitched the images and applied colour correction to make the brightened celestial bodies more visible.

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The second image was taken by NavCam 1 on September 22, 2017, as OSIRIS-REx completed an Earth gravity-assist maneuver—flying close enough to our planet to steal some momentum and speed up the craft on its way to Bennu. This is the view from 110,000 kilometers (69,000 miles) away. The original image was rotated so that the north pole is located at the top, and North America is visible on the upper right.

OSIRIS-Rex, short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer is a 14 year mission. The spacecraft will reach the carbon-rich asteroid after 2 years from its take off from earth. For two years it will chase the asteroid. The plan is to grab at least 60 grams of pristine surface material and return it to Earth for further analysis. OSIRIS-Rex will reach the earth in 2023 after departing the asteroid in 2021.  OSIRIS-Rex has gone through number of tests to ensure its working, before take-off.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is designed to rendezvous with, study, and return a sample of the asteroid Bennu to Earth. Asteroids like Bennu are remnants from the formation of our solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists suspect that asteroids may have been a source of the water and organic molecules for the early Earth and other planetary bodies. An uncontaminated asteroid sample from a known source would enable precise analyses, providing results far beyond what can be achieved by spacecraft-based instruments or by studying meteorites.

In 2018, OSIRIS-REx will approach Bennu – which is the size of a small mountain – and begin an intricate dance with the asteroid, mapping and studying Bennu in preparation for sample collection. In July 2020, the spacecraft will perform a daring maneuver in which its 11-foot arm will reach out and perform a five-second “high-five” to stir up surface material, collecting at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of small rocks and dust in a sample return container. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023, when it will then be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for examination.

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