And OSIRIS-REx's precise tracking of Bennu through space will help researchers better understand the non-gravitational forces (specifically, the Yarkovsky effect) that shape asteroids' trajectories.
OSIRIS-REx has traversed over two billionkilometers to reach Bennu which it will spend a year studying.
The asteroid Bennu, as seen by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of about 50 miles (80 kilometers). The image, which was taken by the PolyCam camera, shows Bennu at 300 pixels and has been stretched to increase contrast between highlights and shadows. During this period, OSIRIS-REx completed four maneuvers slowing the spacecraft's velocity from approximately 1,100 miles per hour (491 m/sec) to 0.10 miles per hour (0.04 m/sec) relative to Bennu, which resulted in the slower approach speed at the end of the video.
The data collected by OSIRIS-REx will prove useful in a variety of other ways as well, mission team members have said. During this period, OSIRIS-REx completed four maneuvers slowing the spacecraft's velocity from approximately 491 m/s to 0.04 m/s relative to Bennu, which resulted in the slower approach speed at the end of the video.
About the size of a large auto, the spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year, before scooping up some gravel for return to Earth in 2023. It's a time capsule of what happened as the solar system was forming.
A Japanese spacecraft, meanwhile, has been hanging out at another near-Earth asteroid since June, also for samples. It will also look for a good spot for the most ambitious part of the mission: Dropping down so close that the TAGSAM can literally touch the asteroid.
Ryugu's specks should be here by December 2020, but will be far less than Osiris-Rex's promised booty. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth's oceans.
'Bennu is a leftover fragment from the tumultuous formation of the solar system, ' NASA says. If needed, it can make up to three sampling attempts, according to Asteroid Mission.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) deep space probe has reached an asteroid which has a potential to collide with Earth. That means they could smack Earth years from now. Its orbit switches between those of Earth and Mars, making it what's officially called a "near-Earth asteroid".
This is NASA's first mission to a near-Earth asteroid.
USA based space agency NASA's spacecraft OSIRIS-REx rendezvoused with its targeted asteroid Bennu on Monday after a two-year space travel. Its odometer read 1.2bn miles (2bn km) as of Monday.
Why send a spacecraft to an asteroid? OSIRIS-REx will then depart Bennu in 2021.