NASA's OSIRIS-REX Astronomical Probe spent many months in space to meet its target – a large cosmic rock known as Bennu. The mission of the spacecraft will be accomplished over the next few years, but his arrival at Bennu means we will finally get a very close shot of the rock itself. And the boy is dirty.
One of the interesting things about asteroids is that they tend not to look the way you could imagine. We learned from science fiction to think that asteroids are a big piece of uneven rock, but the reality is very different. As you can clearly see from the images, Bennu is a big dusty ball full of debris.
Knowing the surface of the asteroid is of paramount importance for the OSIRIS-REx mission as the spacecraft will have to choose a place to land. After about a year of exploration, the machine will touch the asteroid and take a sample of its surface before flying it back to Earth, where scientists will be able to study the material in more detail.
Bennu's surface specimens looked at those sent by the Japanese Hayabusa-2 probe, which traveled to another asteroid called Ryugu, and touched the surface. The probe team quickly noticed how incredibly rough and rough the surface of the asteroid was and that it would seem that Bennu was almost the same.
Asteroids like these have the potential to tell us a lot about the history of our solar system, as well as the materials from which planets like Earth were originally formed. Scientists are always willing to study new planets and distant worlds, but perhaps smaller objects like Bennu can tell us even more about where we started.