Collection |

OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu

On 31 December 2018, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft began to orbit the asteroid (101955) Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid believed to harbour organic molecules and hydrated minerals. Such an asteroid may have once introduced carbon-rich material to Earth. To study the asteroid’s pristine surface, the OSIRIS-REx team will collect a sample for laboratory analysis back on Earth. But before that happens, two years of detailed observations will enable the team to study Bennu up close and select a safe landing site. Our online Collection showcases the first results from OSIRIS-REx on its approach to (and preliminary survey of) Bennu in the latter half of 2018.

Observations of asteroid (101955) Bennu with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reveal an unexpected surficial diversity that poses a challenge to the success of the sample-return mission.

Letter | | Nature

Signatures of phyllosilicate-like hydrated minerals are widespread on Bennu’s surface, indicating significant aqueous alteration. The lack of spatial variations in the spectra down to the scale of ~100 m indicates both a relatively uniform particle size distribution and a lack of compositional segregation, possibly due to surficial redistribution processes.

Article | | Nature Astronomy

Vicinity of small bodies might be dangerous to the spacecrafts and to their instrumentation. Here the authors show the operational environment of asteroid Bennu, validate its photometric phase function and demonstrate the accelerating rotational rate due to YORP effect using the data acquired during the approach phase of OSIRIS-REx mission.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications