NASA researchers are making final preparations to meet an asteroid. The asteroid is Bennu. The American space agency plans the mission for August 2018.
Bennu is a giant asteroid. It weighs about 60 million tonnes and travels with a speed of 100,000 kilometers an hour. The near earth asteroid is approaching us at high speeds. Bennu can even strike our planet and cause mass destructions. But the chances are narrow as the experts believe. Bennu covers a distance of 500,000 kilometers towards earth every year.
The Spaceship to go on this mission is OSIRIS-Rex. It's a 6 meters long ship with the shape of a man's bow tie. NASA and University of Arizona head the mission. The plan is to project a human less spacecraft to the Bennu. The craft would leave earth on September 8 to reach the asteroid until August 2018.
The astaeroidmission.org gives all the information related to the mission.
The launch would take place from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Atlas v411 would be the vehicle for this launch. The 34 day launch period commences on September 8.
The spaceship would be orbiting the sun for a year. After the completion, it will use earth's gravitational field to join the right track to Bennu. The tracking to the Bennu can begin in August 2018. It will use an array of rocket thrusters to match steps with the fast moving asteroid.
The craft would begin with mapping potential sample sites. After the final selection of the site, it will collect the sample from that site. It will touch the surface for 5 seconds and release nitrogen gas burst.
A detailed survey of the asteroid is the intention of the mission. Survey would begin after two months since the visit. The process can take about a year of time.
The spaceship is to return to the earth in September 2023. It will start its return journey in March 2021 and would need two and a half years to come back.
The collected samples would separate from the ship to enter earth's atmosphere. Researchers would organise this sample two years post the arrival. They then will commence the analysis of the sample to reach a few scientific conclusions.
About 75 percent of the sample will be safe at NASA's Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston. The worldwide experts will use it for their research. Even the next gen scientists will get outstanding opportunities.
The event would create history as there would not be any such event for next 150 years. People after 150 years would be the ones to know whether the asteroid posed any real threat or not.