The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be broadcasting the coverage of the agency’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission as it will attempt to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The live coverage will stream the spacecraft’s descent to the asteroid’s surface during its “Touch-And-Go,” or TAG, manoeuvre. Here is everything you need to know about NASA’s endeavour.
NASA has stated in an article titled “NASA to Broadcast OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Collection Activities” on its official website that the live coverage will begin on Tuesday, October 20 at 6:12 p.m. EDT which is 3:12 pm, Pacific Time (PT) and 3:42 am, Wednesday, Indian Standard Time (IST). The endeavour of collecting samples from Asteroid Bennu will be managed by Lockheed Martin Space near Denver and the coverage will begin at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. NASA has stated that the endeavour will begin with an orbit departure manoeuvre around 1:50 p.m. and the entire sequence of the complicated engineering feat will be covered on @OSIRISREx and media. Live swathers can also ask questions using the hashtag #ToBennuandBack. In addition to this interactive broadcast, briefings and social media activities will cover the mission and asteroid science on Monday, October 19.
According to the NASA report, OSIRIS-REx is about the size of a 15-passenger van, is currently orbiting the asteroid Bennu 200 million miles from Earth. Asteroid Bennu is not ordinary space rock either, this primitive asteroid contains material from the early solar system. Hence this ambitious NASA mission to collect the asteroid samples from Bennu might help us understand the molecular precursors to life and Earth’s oceans.
Bennu is as tall as the Empire State Building which is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. Thanks to its gargantuan size, Bennu can possibly pose a threat to life on Earth when it conducts a close flyby at the beginning of the next century. NASA has mentioned that there is 1‐in‐2,700 chance of Bennu impacting our planet. In terms of space, this is a pretty high chance. OSIRIS-REx aims to collect samples of this ancient relic of our solar system and bring its stories and secrets home to Earth. Not only will this help to understand what the solar system was like before life began on earth, but it will also help in understanding where our place in the ever transcending fabric of space-time.