NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Snaps Incredible Picture of Earth

The film shows the asteroid Bennu, top right, roughly 43 kilometres from the spacecraft, and the Earth and moon, bottom left, more than 110 million kilometres away.

The tiny asteroid – barely 500 meters – appears as a big glowing blob in the long-exposure photograph released a week, ” the report said.

Launched from Florida at 2016, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft attained Bennu on December 3, 2018 after travelling over a billion miles through space. The spacecraft will spend nearly annually surveying the space rock from orbit.

On January 1, 2019, the spacecraft, 110 million kilometres away, completed one, eight-second burn off of its own thrusters. Now, it will circle Bennu about 1.75 kilometres from its centre, closer than any other spacecraft has come to its celestial object of study.

Previously, the nearest orbit of a planetary body was in May 2016, when the Rosetta spacecraft orbited approximately seven kilometres in the centre of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The spacecraft is scheduled to orbit Bennu through mid-February at a leisurely 62 hours each orbit.

The OSIRIS-REx staff will resume science operations in late February.

At that stage, the spacecraft will perform a series of close flybys of Bennu for many weeks to take high-resolution images of every square inch of the asteroid to help select a sampling site.

The OSIRIS-REx assignment is scheduled to provide the sample to Earth in September 2023.


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