Asteroids, asteroids and only asteroids. Now-a-days you must be hearing a lot about asteroids. Aren’t you? Well, asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. There are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Recently, many deadly asteroids including 2019 OK, 2019 OD, 2015 HM10, 2019 OE, 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others approached towards the Earth, fortunately did not hit out planet. Have you seen any asteroid so far? May be you have not. NASA has recently grabbed the closest shot of the asteroid named 101955 Bennu or Asteroid Bennu.
It is to be noted that NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is currently in position around near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu, has transmitted its closest shot of the asteroid’s surface. Yes, you read it right. According to a recent report of the Verge, NASA has released a photo taken on June 13 from a circular orbit of just 0.4 miles (690 meters) above Bennu—described as the closest a spacecraft has ever orbited a body in the Solar System.
Take a look:
Asteroid Bennu Photo Credit: NASA
In a press release, NASA had said, “This image of asteroid Bennu was captured on Jun. 13, 2019, shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft executed its second orbital insertion maneuver. From the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit, half of Bennu is sunlit and half is in shadow. Bennu’s largest boulder can also be seen protruding from the southern hemisphere. The image was taken from a distance of 0.4 miles (690 m) above the asteroid’s surface by NavCam 1, one of three navigation cameras that comprise the spacecraft’s TAGCAMS (the Touch-and-Go Camera System) suite. At this distance, details as small as 1.6 ft (0.5 m) across can be resolved in the centre of the image.”
Asteroid Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999. It has a mean diameter of approximately 492 metre (the size of the Empire State building) and it may collide with our planet in 2135. The gigantic asteroid has an estimated weight of 79 billion kilograms has been observed extensively with the Arecibo Observatory planetary radar and the Goldstone Deep Space Network.
Earlier, NASA had the plans to deflect this asteroid using the planetary defence weapon. However, several experts believe that the space agency will not succeed in deviating the collision course of Bennu due to its gigantic size and weight.
It is worth mentioning here that NASA has already released photos of OSIRIS-REx taken with the craft’s NavCam 1 navigation camera on January 17, 2019 from a distance of roughly a mile (1.6 kilometres) above its surface.