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NASA to Commence Bennu Asteroid Study Mission With Lockheed Spacecraft; Kevin Walsh Comments

NASA imageNASA will launch a space mission that will travel to the asteroid called Bennu on September 8 to study and return samples from the rock formation.

The space agency said Wednesday its Goddard Space Flight Center leads the OSIRIS-REx mission that will use Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer instruments to survey the asteroid for a year.

Lockheed Martin is developing the spacecraft for the mission and the University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta will serve as the principal investigator

OSIRIS-REx’s goal is to search for plumes of material coming from the asteroid, measure non-gravitational forces on Bennu and identify the best spot to collect samples from.

“Everything the spacecraft learns will be woven together like a tapestry to tell the story of Bennu,” said Kevin Walsh, OSIRIS-REx co-investigator at the Southwest Research Institute.

NASA noted three operations maps are planned to evaluate safe areas for the spacecraft to move close to, determine areas the sampling arm can create contact with the surface and to indicate where to collect material suited for sampling.

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