The OSIRIS-REx group has decided on a location to acquire a sample from the asteroid Bennu. It is a 460-foot-broad crater that they’ve dubbed “Nightingale.”
This announcement follows a months-extensive variety system concerning four chook-named candidates: Sandpiper (specially a western sandpiper), Osprey, Kingfisher (exclusively a widespread kingfisher), and Nightingale, all of which seemed to be rather hazard-no cost. Selecting the example sampling site is the upcoming move for the mission.
OSIRIS REx’s scientists settled on the Nightingale web page owing to an abundance of good-grained particles in an location wherever they’ll be effortless (rather talking) to gather, Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, discussed in a NASA press release. The crater is 460 feet (140 meters) throughout on Bennu’s significantly-northern hemisphere. The site and rather new age of the crater suggests that the material will with any luck , be pristine—relatively unchanged considering the fact that Bennu fashioned in the photo voltaic system’s early days. OSIRIS-REx will not land on the internet site in its place, it will strategy the asteroid, contact it, get a sample, and go in less than five seconds. The ship will be able of 3 assortment makes an attempt.
Bennu is a carbon-stuffed asteroid 1,614 toes (492 meters) in diameter, orbiting the Sunlight at about the exact same distance as Earth. This orbit brings it somewhat close to us—close ample that NASA experts compute a 1-in-two,700 possibility of the asteroid putting Earth among 2175 and 2199.
The OSIRIS-REx mission introduced in September 2016 and arrived at Bennu last December. The mission is NASA’s 1st asteroid sample return mission, and if thriving, it will bring back the premier sample of extraterrestrial substance since the Apollo times. Substance on carbonaceous asteroids like Bennu can serve as a history of the form of issue current in the early solar program and maybe remedy queries as to the origin of water and daily life on Earth.
Nightingale crater isn’t devoid of its dangers. The element of the crater secure for landing is only 52 feet (16 meters) across, and there is a big boulder on the crater’s rim that could be a hazard immediately after the sample selection, according to the NASA launch. The OSIRIS-REx team picked Osprey as a backup web-site, in situation the ship need to abort its to start with touchdown attempt and disturbs Nightingale in the procedure.
As a birdwatcher myself, I am definitely elated by the alternative of fowl names for craters on an asteroid that by itself is named right after an Egyptian god depicted as a chicken. Typical nightingales are located in Europe, southwest Asia and northern Africa (but not in North or South The united states) and are famed for their stunning song. I personally would have picked a songbird discovered in North The us like the bobolink or the wooden thrush, given that NASA is the U.S. room company, but I am but an armchair astronomer.
Following continuing to study the asteroid and develop significant-resolution maps, the OSIRIS-REx staff will system rehearsals for its sample selection attempts. The spacecraft is because of to depart Bennu in 2021, for a 2023 return to Earth.