Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2019 May 24
Explanation: An abundance of boulders litters the surface asteroid 101955 Bennu in this dramatic close-up from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Taken on March 28 from a distance of just 3.4 kilometres (2.1 miles) the field of view is about 50 metres across while the light coloured boulder at top right is 4.8 metres tall. Likely a loose conglomerate rubble pile asteroid, Bennu itself spans less than 500 metres. That's about the height of the Empire State Building. Mapping the near Earth asteroid since the spacecraft's arrival in December of 2018, the OSIRIS-REx mission plans a TAG (Touch-and-Go) manoeuvre for July 2020 to sample Bennu's rugged surface, returning the sample to planet Earth in September 2023. Citizen scientists have been invited to help choose the sample collection site.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.