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OSIRIS-REx Will Not Change Bennu Trajectory to Wipe Out the Earth

8 Sep 2016, 20:30 UTC
OSIRIS-REx Will Not Change Bennu Trajectory to Wipe Out the Earth
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER: We’ve all started a small project around the house and in the process of fixing the small problem, we slip and break something far larger. Is there any chance that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will “slip” and alter asteroid Bennu’s trajectory to wipe out the Earth? The OSIRIS-REx team says not a chance.

The 1/10 scale model of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, shown here with its TAGSAM arm extended. The TAGSAM arm is equipped with three nitrogen gas canisters, used to stir up the surface of Bennu to capture material to study. Photo credit: Jared Haworth / We Report Space
According to deputy principal investigator Heather Enos, the mass of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about the size of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The size of asteroid Bennu is about the size of a pretty good-sized mountain. “There is no chance of us changing the trajectory of Bennu or pushing it towards Earth at all.”
After thoroughly mapping Bennu, the spacecraft will descend to the surface, use nitrogen to stir up a sample and then vacuum anywhere from 2 ounces to 4.4 pounds of material. This entire “kiss” will take five seconds. Is there any danger that OSIRIS-REx will crash ...

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