Mosaic of asteroid Bennu. (Credit: University of Arizona)
TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — As NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prepares to briefly touch down and collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu in October, the mission’s science team, led by the University of Arizona, has worked meticulously to create the highest resolution global map of any planetary body, including Earth. The endeavor is the latest in the university’s long history of celestial imaging and mapping – one that began with the first lunar landings.
The team stitched together 2,155 images – containing pixels that translate to two square inches on the surface – to create the Bennu Global Mosaic.
“This is the finest spatial scale we’ve ever mapped of a planetary object,” said Daniella DellaGiustina, OSIRIS-REx image processing lead scientist. “It’s also unprecedented in the way we used it. Typically, when NASA chooses a landing site for an upcoming mission, they have an orbiter doing reconnaissance of the surface long before a separate mission contacts the surface. But we went to Bennu without that luxury. This paradigm of doing every step in close succession is unique and made things demanding.”
The spacecraft collected the images at distances ranging from 2.2 ...