Astronomers have published in open access the most detailed maps of the surface of the asteroid Bennu, which was composed of pictures aboard the international space station OSIRIS-REx. Her to distinguish objects up to 5 inches, reported on the website of the mission.
(101955) Bennu is a 500-meter near-earth asteroid group Apollo, which was opened in 2013 and named after the bird of Egyptian mythology. It has an average density of about 1190 kilograms per cubic meter, which allows to relate it to the class of objects of type “heap of rubble”, and is considered one of the most dark small bodies of the Solar system. Since the end of December 2018, it explores the automatic interplanetary station OSIRIS-REx, which at the end of August this year will collect a few hundred grams of soil from its surface and deliver the capsule with him to Earth in September 2023.
Throughout the period of observations of Bennu station repeatedly made similar overflights and worked at a record low orbit, taking images of the surface of the asteroid using on-Board cameras. It was necessary for the selection of locations of soil sampling, and for the preparation of a detailed global maps of Bennu, which should help scientists to understand the properties of the asteroid. In the period from 7 March to 19 April 2019 station with your PolyCam camera has received a total of 2155 individual frames which are then experts assembled mosaic image of the entire surface of the asteroid. The scale is five centimetres per pixel, making this map the asteroid’s most detailed to date. The survey was conducted with distances from 3.1 to 5 kilometers from Benn.
In early March, OSIRIS-REx has completed a study of the main venue “the Nightingale” of soil sampling, flying at an altitude of 300 meters above it, and in April and June is preparing to make two rehearsals of the procedure of soil sampling with Bennu, the distance to the surface of the asteroid will be from 125 to 25 meters.
Learn more about what scientists have learned about Bennu with this station, see our article “celestial body diamond shape”.