(Image credit: Heather Roper/University of Arizona)
After NASA’s epic OSIRIS-REx capsule landing success, spacecraft heads to asteroid Apophis on new mission
This second asteroid quest will see the OSIRIS-APEX spacecraft (as it’s now known) sidle up to an infamous near-Earth object.
The NASA probe that delivered precious samples of the space rock Bennu to Earth is now on an extended voyage to study an infamous near Earth asteroid.
OSIRIS-REx completed NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission on Sunday (Sept. 24), when its reentry capsule landed in the western Utah desert. But now the main spacecraft has embarked on a side quest: to scope out and get up close with Apophis, an asteroid previously thought to potentially pose a threat to Earth.
The spacecraft used its return to Earth to fling iself on a course toward Apophis. It fired its engines about 20 minutes after releasing the reentry capsule containing pristine material from the early solar system, effecting a trajectory change and setting it on another long, looping voyage.