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After the InSight made a landing on Mars's surface, you might think that NASA would take a break. But no, the space agency is planning to make more history. Just like the InSight landing, NASA will also be live streaming its very first asteroid sample return mission to 101955 Bennu.
NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will make contact with Bennu right on 12 p.m. EST., December 3. People who wish to see the live stream can visit NASA's website, while Facebook and YouTube will also be covering the historic event live.
The OSIRIS-REx first took a flight back in September 2016, and three years later it will finally tag the asteroid. It is integrated with five instruments and will survey the space rock for one year, before choosing a site to retract a sample.
The spacecraft won't touch the surface of the asteroid like Japan's Hayabusa 2 did a few months back. instead, it will use a leaf blower-type instrument that will blow up the dust into its robotic arms.
The OSIRIS-REx will begin operation around the asteroid on December 3, passing over the north pole, south pole and equator from just 4.3 miles away. This will help to determine the mass, spinning speed and generate a model of the asteroid.
The mission is said to complete in 2023 when the spacecraft returns to Earth with the asteroid's dust on board. The layer of Bennu's skin will also allow astronomers to understand more about how life on Earth began and the formation of our solar system.
And, given the fact that Bennu has a chance of colliding with the Earth sometime after 2175 - it would be helpful to be prepared for the collision beforehand. If OSIRIS-REx manages to fulfill the goals, it will make for another huge live stream celebration for NASA.