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.

Research

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

News

Comment

NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is planning to bring back a sample from a near-Earth asteroid in 2023, and it has just delivered its first scientific results. It is only one of the projects from various space agencies that will put small bodies and sample return into the spotlight in the upcoming decade.

Editorial | | Nature Astronomy

Near-Earth asteroid Bennu is one of a range of bodies in the Solar System to have been reached by space missions in the past months. Crowd-sourcing technologies can help with the exploration of its surface.

Editorial | | Nature Geoscience

Japanese and US missions returning samples from the carbon-rich asteroids Ryugu and Bennu are the latest steps in probing our Solar System’s smallest bodies, near and far, for clues to our own origins and directions for our future exploration.

Comment | | Nature Astronomy

After the return of Hayabusa from asteroid Itokawa in 2010, the Japanese space agency JAXA developed a plan to investigate how our planet became habitable. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft mission to the asteroid Ryugu is just one part of this exploration that aims to track water and organics throughout our Solar System.

Comment | | Nature Astronomy

On 27 June 2018 the Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at the carbonaceous asteroid Ryugu — a top-shaped asteroid with a very dark surface and many boulders. After a careful search for a safe and flat landing site, the first touchdown successfully took place on 22 February 2019.

Comment | | Nature Astronomy

The OSIRIS-REx mission has reached its target, asteroid Bennu, and is engaging in reconnaissance and early science observations in preparation for sample collection. Principal investigator team Heather Enos and Dante Lauretta provide an overview.

Mission Control | | Nature Astronomy

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft will soon rendezvous with asteroid Ryugu in order to study its composition using remote sensing, a lander, rovers and sample return, explains Elizabeth Tasker.

Mission Control | | Nature Astronomy