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NASA is collecting space dirt from an asteroid that could kill us all

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A composite picture of Bennu taken from OSIRIS-REx at a distance of 330 km (205 miles).


NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

If Earth is going to get worn out by an asteroid within the subsequent couple of hundred years, Bennu could be the one to do it. 

Officially often called 101955 Bennu, the asteroid is in regards to the dimension of the Empire State Building and has a “not-insignificant probability of impacting the Earth,” according to NASA. In reality, Bennu is ranked second on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale — successfully Earth’s rankings of “what’s going to wipe us all out”?

So if we had an opportunity to go to it, absolutely we would ship a ragtag workforce of miners to blow it up, slightly than travelling seven years to gather a little bit of space dirt off the highest? 

But bear in mind, this is NASA we’re speaking about!


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In this week’s episode of Watch This Space, we check out OSIRIS-REx — NASA’s mission to make contact with Bennu (for all of 5 seconds) to gather asteroid mud from the floor and produce it again to Earth. 

VIDEO

OSIRIS-REx’s Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism (TAGSAM) will make contact with the asteroid and blast fuel on its floor to brush up a mud pattern. 


NASA

It may sound like an extended option to go for a little bit of mud, however this materials (often called “regolith”) could inform us loads. According to NASA, asteroids are primarily “the leftover debris from the solar system formation process,” so their composition can make clear the historical past of our the photo voltaic system, the way it was shaped and even how planets like Earth got here to be. 

OSIRIS-REx (that stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer spacecraft) arrived at Bennu on Dec. three and can spend rather less than a 12 months surveying the asteroid for an acceptable space to the touch down. When it is discovered the right spot, the spacecraft will make contact with the floor of the asteroid for about 5 seconds, sending a blast of nitrogen fuel to disturb mud and pebbles on the floor to seize within the spacecraft and produce again to earth. 

At the tip of its seven-year mission, NASA scientists will have the ability to look at this materials and be taught extra about the place we got here from and probably even discover “molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans” according to NASA

If you need to be taught extra in regards to the different amazingly cool stuff NASA and different space businesses are as much as, you’ll be able to try the total Watch This Space series on YouTube.

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