Have a look in the southern area and left of center in this remarkable image of the asteroid Bennu from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft (click the image for a larger version). Sure looks like “something”, but what? At first glance it almost doesn’t seem to fit, like it is foreign and probably the conspiracy theorists are jumping to conclusions we will be hearing shortly.
Why not? The object appears to be in the order of what, 30 meters across or so? Well we can hopefully rule out anything “unnatural”. If you take a look at the GIF made on 02 November from 197 km / 122 miles, this appears to be a very interesting geological feature; I will be glad to hear NASA’s idea’s on how this formed.
Images: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
NASA: nASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday. The spacecraft executed a maneuver that transitioned it from flying toward Bennu to operating around the asteroid.
Now, at about 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) from Bennu’s Sun-facing surface, OSIRIS-REx will begin a preliminary survey of the asteroid. The spacecraft will commence flyovers of Bennu’s north pole, equatorial region, and south pole, getting as close as nearly 4 miles (7 kilometers) above Bennu during each flyover.
The primary science goals of this survey are to refine estimates of Bennu’s mass and spin rate, and to generate a more precise model of its shape. The data will help determine potential sites for later sample collection.
OSIRIS-REx’s mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. Asteroids are remnants of the building blocks that formed the planets and enabled life. Those like Bennu contain natural resources, such as water, organics and metals. Future space exploration and economic development may rely on asteroids for these materials.
“As explorers, we at NASA have never shied away from the most extreme challenges in the solar system in our quest for knowledge,” said Lori Glaze, acting director for NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Now we’re at it again, working with our partners in the U.S. and Canada to accomplish the Herculean task of bringing back to Earth a piece of the early solar system.”