The American space agency (NASA) released last Monday a new image of the asteroid Bennu made by the space probe OSIRIS-REx. Despite being billions of kilometers away, its trajectory could pass very close to Earth in less than two centuries.
NASA estimates that in 2135 Bennu will be closer to Earth than the Moon, which is about 390 thousand kilometers away. In 2175 and 2195, it will be even closer to the planet, but the agency says there is no risk of collision.
Scientists study Bennu’s path through space and periodically receive images made by OSIRIS-REx. On the probe’s official Twitter, the most recent photos of the rocky surface are released. The forecast is that in 2020 the equipment will be able to make a landing to collect at least 60 grams of material. Then, the sample will be sent back to Earth on a three-year trip.
This image was taken on March 21 by the PolyCam camera from a distance of 2.2 miles (3.5 km). The large boulder in the upper half the image is 82 ft (25 m) wide, which is a little less than the distance between bases on a baseball diamond.
– NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) April 22, 2019
The probe has been in orbit around Bennu since December 31 last year. Scientists believe they will be able to study preserved traces of the emergence of the Solar System. The asteroid is about 500 meters in diameter.