New audacious mission specialists NASA launched on 9 September, at 2.50 am Moscow time from Cape Canaveral went camera OSIRIS-REx for the extraction of soil from the asteroid Bennu. Not landing, he will only touch the stone blocks of the robotic arm to take samples and bring them to the Ground.
To space OSIRIS-REx went on the Atlas V rocket To an asteroid flight would be two years. By 2018, the apparatus should be out on the solar orbit, which rotates Benn, to catch up with him and take samples, but not immediately, and only in 2020. Well, after the way home with 2 kilos of alien substances, which American scientists had already promised to give to all the world’s leading laboratories, as was once done with the lunar regolith. It is believed that inside of Bennu, which is approximately equal to the age of the Earth – 4.5 billion years — it may contain the answer to the question about the origin of life on our planet. The aircraft’s return to Earth is scheduled for 2023.
Why chosen mission asteroid Bennu, because in the Solar system, flying more than 500 thousand asteroids known to scientists? He chose from the objects near-Earth similar Earth orbits (low inclination) and a diameter of more than 200 meters. This factor was important because the speed of rotation of the body with diameter less than 200 meters is very high, and it would prevent the mechanical arm of the apparatus to capture soil samples. Besides Benn, was approached by researchers from the point of view of its chemical composition. We had to choose the one that is rich in carbon and has not undergone significant changes since its formation 4 billion years ago. This condition for potential preservation of organic molecules, volatile substances and amino acids, which may be the predecessors of life on Earth.
Benn turns around the Sun every 436 604 days (1.2 years) and every 6 years comes very close to the Ground within 0.002 AU (about 300 thousand kilometers).