2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
OSIRIS-REx in deep space as seen by an artist.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, bound for asteroid Bennu, will also be used to search for Earth's Trojan asteroids. Reported by Spaceflight Now.
Celestial bodies located near the L4 and L5 Lagrange points are called Trojan asteroids. In fact, such asteroids are "stuck" in orbit due to the gravitational effects of two much more massive celestial bodies - for example, planets and stars. A large number of Trojan asteroids are known around Jupiter, however, only one such asteroid has been discovered near the Earth at the L4 point.
Scheme of the passage of a spacecraft through the Lagrange point.
Since OSIRIS-REx will fly past the L4 Lagrange point, scientists will use an onboard camera to observe the sky of interest. The search for Earth's Trojan asteroids will last from 9 to 20 February.
Collection of soil from the surface of the asteroid Bennu in the artist's view.
At the moment OSIRIS-REx is located at a distance of 119 million kilometers. OSIRIS-REx was launched aboard the Atlas V launch vehicle in September 2016. In total, the mission will last about seven years, the device will reach its main target - the asteroid Bennu - only in August 2018. After studying the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx will collect a soil sample using a special manipulator. During contact, the instrument will "blow" nitrogen over the asteroid and lift dust and rock fragments from the surface. After collecting the soil, the spacecraft will go back, it is expected that OSIRIS-REx will drop a capsule with soil to Earth in 2023.