NASA to grab a piece of an asteroid, which is even harder than it sounds
For the past two years, the OSIRIS- REX spacecraft has sailed across the solar system by the light of the stars. Like ancient mariners and the Apollo astronauts, it needed the constancy of the constellations to navigate the dark unknown. All that changed Monday, when the NASA probe finally reached its target, an Empire State Buildingsized asteroid called Bennu.
Now OSIRIS- REX faces a whole new kind of challenge: exploring the smallest object ever orbited by a spacecraft.
OSIRIS-REX was within 12 miles of Bennu’s surface — about the distance between the White House and NASA’S Goddard Space Flight Center, which manages the spacecraft. Soon an image of the asteroid appeared on the mission control screens: a diamond- shaped body with a rough, speckled exterior. OSIRIS- REX was finally at the doorstep of its new home.