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Topics Covered: Awareness in space.



On May 11, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will depart asteroid Bennu, and start its two-year long journey back to Earth.

About the mission:

  • OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s first mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid, survey its surface and collect a sample from it.
  • In October 2020, the spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it collected samples of dust and pebbles.
  • The mission was launched in 2016.

About asteroid Bennu:

Bennu is considered to be an ancient asteroid that has not gone through a lot of composition-altering change through billions of years, which means that below its surface lie chemicals and rocks from the birth of the solar system.

  • Therefore, scientists and researchers are interested in studying this asteroid as it might give them clues about the origins of the solar system, the sun, the Earth and the other planets.
  • So far, we know that Bennu is a B-type asteroid, implying that it contains significant amounts of carbon and various other minerals.
  • Because of its high carbon content, the asteroid reflects about four per cent of the light that hits it, which is very low when compared with a planet like Venus, which reflects about 65 per cent of the light that hits it. Earth reflects about 30 per cent.


Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of OSIRIS- REx.
  2. What are near earth asteroids?
  3. About Bennu.

Mains Link:

Discuss the objectives of OSIRIS- REx.

Sources: Indian Express.