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Press Releases

Nine-Year-Old Names Asteroid Target of NASA Mission in Competition Run By The Planetary Society (May 1, 2013)

Asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36 now has the much friendlier name "Bennu," thanks to a 3rd-grade student from North Carolina.

Student Asteroid Naming Contest Announced (September 4, 2012)

Students around the world have the opportunity to suggest names for an asteroid that will be visited by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft later this decade.

Planetary Society Has Role with OSIRIS-REx Mission (May 25, 2011)

NASA has selected the OSIRIS-REx mission as the next New Frontiers mission, and the Planetary Society is excited to announce that it will be involved with many public outreach activities connected with the mission.

Videos

Images

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth and the Moon, 3 days after flyby

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth and the Moon, 3 days after flyby

Enlarged by a factor of 2, the image clearly shows how dark the Moon is compared to Earth. OSIRIS-REx took this photo on 25 September 2017 from a range of 1,331,000 kilometers to Earth, and 1,222,000 kilometers to the Moon.

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Earth just after flyby

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Earth just after flyby

When MapCam could see all of Earth, the higher-resolution PolyCam saw just a part of Earth. This image shows parts of Canada’s Northwest Territories, including Great Bear Lake right of and below center. High clouds cast shadows, blurring the distinction between cloudy skies above and snow-covered surface below. The photo was taken on 22 September 2017 at a range of 161,000 kilometers.

OSIRIS-REx MapCam view of the Moon, 3 days after flyby

OSIRIS-REx MapCam view of the Moon, 3 days after flyby

Color image enlarged by a factor of 2. OSIRIS-REx took this photo on 25 September 2017 from a range of 1,227,000 kilometers.

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth, just after flyby

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth, just after flyby

Just a few hours after its gravity-assist flyby of Earth, OSIRIS-REx tested many of its instruments on our home planet. It was 123,000 kilometers away when it took this photo on 22 September 2017.

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of the Moon, 3 days after flyby

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of the Moon, 3 days after flyby

North is to the upper right. The circular dark spot left of center near the terminator is Mare Crisium. OSIRIS-REx took this photo on 25 September 2017 from a range of 1,166,000 kilometers.

Boulders on the Horizon

Boulders on the Horizon

This image shows several large boulders positioned on asteroid Bennu’s equatorial ridge. The image was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on 12 April 2019 from an altitude of 2800 meters. The field of view is 40.3 meters wide. For scale, the largest boulder on the horizon is more than 5.2 meters tall, which is about the height of a two-story house. The image was obtained during Flyby 6B of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the northern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam south and to the west.

Bennu from Orbital B

Bennu from Orbital B

A global view of Bennu from an altitude of 690 meters. The asteroid itself is 490 meters across. The photo was taken on 13 June 2019.

Moody Bennu

Moody Bennu

This image of Bennu was captured on 13 June 2019, shortly after OSIRIS-REx executed its second orbital insertion maneuver to arrive in a 680-meter circular orbit around the asteroid. At this distance, details as small as 50 centimeters across can be resolved in the center of the Navcam image. 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.

Three Tiny Near-Earth Objects

Three Tiny Near-Earth Objects

Hayabusa2’s target asteroid, Ryugu, is very small but still larger than OSIRIS-REx’s Bennu and Hayabusa’s Itokawa. All have boulder-rich surfaces, but Ryugu and Bennu have less dust and fine gravel than Itokawa. Each closeup is 60 meters wide.

Bennu's

Bennu's "spine"

Bennu has a region of large boulders that runs like a spine from the equator down toward the south pole. This image of the top of Bennu's spine was taken by PolyCam from the northern hemisphere during Flyby 5A of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase on 4 April 2019 from a distance of 4.6 kilometers. The triangular boulder in the center is 9.2 meters high.

View of the North from Bennu’s Southern Hemisphere

View of the North from Bennu’s Southern Hemisphere

This image provides a steeply angled view of a region of asteroid Bennu’s equator and northern hemisphere. It was taken by the OSIRIS-REx PolyCam on 28 March 2019 from a distance of 3.6 kilometers during Flyby 4A of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. The largest boulder in the upper left corner of the image is 14.5 meters wide. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the southern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam up toward the far north.

Graduated Boulder Sizes

Graduated Boulder Sizes

This image shows a rocky patch in the northern hemisphere of asteroid Bennu where the rocks and boulders are situated by size. It was taken by the OSIRIS-REx PolyCam camera on 29 March 2019 from a distance of 3.4 kilometers. For scale, the little rock sitting on the boulder in the lower left corner is 2.5 meters wide. The image was obtained during Flyby 4B of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the northern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam slightly to the south.

Bennu's Boulder No. 1

Bennu's Boulder No. 1

This image, taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on 29 March 2019 from a distance of 3.6 kilometers, shows Bennu’s largest boulder. The height of the boulder is 21.7 meters. The image was obtained during Flyby 4B of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the northern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam down toward the south.

Bennu panorama from Baseball Diamond phase

Bennu panorama from Baseball Diamond phase

This image combines two pictures captured on 29 March 2019 by the OSIRIS-REx OCAMS (PolyCam) during flyby 4B of the mission's Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. The image was taken from a height of about 3.6 kilometers near Bennu's equator. The boulder-free region on the left is a crater 21.6 meters wide, and a candidate sample site. The large boulder at the bottom is one of Bennu's darkest, with an albedo of about 3.3%.

Rocks and Boulders near Bennu’s Equator

Rocks and Boulders near Bennu’s Equator

This image shows the rocky surface of Bennu in a region just south of the asteroid’s equator. The PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft took the image on 7 March 2019 from a distance of 4.8 kilometers. The width of the field of view is 56.4 meters of Bennu’s surface. For scale, the cracked rock at the top of the image is 21 meters long, which is about the length of four parallel parking spots. The image was obtained during Flyby 1 of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. Instrument Used: OCAMS (PolyCam)

Northern Bennu Boulder Imaged by PolyCam

Northern Bennu Boulder Imaged by PolyCam

This image shows one of the largest boulders on asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere. It was taken on 7 March 2019 by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of 4.6 kilometers. The field of view in the image is 58.2 meters and the boulder itself measures 23.5 meters. The image was obtained during Flyby 1 of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase while the spacecraft was flying over Bennu’s equator and pointing PolyCam to the north and west of the asteroid. Instrument Used: OCAMS (PolyCam)

Bennu’s Equatorial Ridge

Bennu’s Equatorial Ridge

On 29 March 2019, the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft took this image of a region of dark regolith on asteroid Bennu. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was positioned over Bennu’s northern hemisphere, looking southward over the asteroid’s equatorial bulge. The field of view shown is 51.2 meters wide. For scale, the bright, rectangular rock above the dark region is 2.4 meters wide, about the size of a long bed on a pickup truck. This image was taken during Flyby 4 of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. Instrument Used: OCAMS (PolyCam).

Four Sides of Bennu with Corresponding Global Mosaic

Four Sides of Bennu with Corresponding Global Mosaic

This image shows four views of asteroid Bennu along with a corresponding global mosaic. The images were taken on 2 December 2018 by the OCAMS (PolyCam) instrument.

Regolith pond on Bennu

Regolith pond on Bennu

This trio of images acquired by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on 25 February approximately 1.8 kilometers from the surface shows a wide shot and two close-ups of a region in Bennu’s northern hemisphere. The wide-angle image (left), obtained by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera, shows a 180-meter-wide area with many rocks, including some large boulders, and a “pond” of regolith that is mostly devoid of large rocks. The two closer images, obtained by the high-resolution PolyCam camera, show details of areas in the MapCam image, specifically a 15-meter boulder (top) and the regolith pond (bottom). The PolyCam frames are 31 meters across.

Bennu particle ejection

Bennu particle ejection

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on 19 January 2019 was created by combining two images taken by OSIRIS-REx's NavCam 1 imager: a short exposure image (1.4 ms), which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long exposure image (5 sec), which shows the particles clearly. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each layer.

Bennu limb detail

Bennu limb detail

This image shows a view across asteroid Bennu’s southern hemisphere and into space, and it demonstrates the number and distribution of boulders across Bennu’s surface. The image was obtained on 7 March by the OSIRIS-REx PolyCam camera from a distance of about 5 kilometers. The large, light-colored boulder just below the center of the image is about 7.4 meters.

MapCam views of Earth from OSIRIS-REx flyby

MapCam views of Earth from OSIRIS-REx flyby

Six days after it flew past Earth, OSIRIS-REx pointed its color MapCam at our home planet.

OSIRIS-REx OCAMS fields of view compared

OSIRIS-REx OCAMS fields of view compared

OSIRIS-REx took these 3 images of the Moon with its 3 science cameras within about an hour of each other on 25 September 2017. The pictures illustrate the differences in field of view and resolving power among the cameras. SamCam has a 21 degree field of view; MapCam has a 4 degree field of view; and PolyCam has a 0.82 degree field of view.

Flying away from Earth

Flying away from Earth

As OSIRIS-REx departed from its 22 September 2017 Earth flyby, it took a sequence of images of the diminishing, rotating planet with its NavCam.

NavCam image animation from OSIRIS-REx’s Earth flyby

NavCam image animation from OSIRIS-REx’s Earth flyby

OSIRIS-REx tested most of its instruments on Earth and the Moon following the 22 September 2017 Earth flyby. This animation includes 29 images of Earth taken between 21:08 and 22:43 on that day as OSIRIS-REx shifted to place the image of Earth in different places on the NavCam detector.

OSIRIS-REx NavCam field of view compared to OCAMS

OSIRIS-REx NavCam field of view compared to OCAMS

OSIRIS-REx's NavCams have a wide field of view (44 by 32 degrees) and large detectors (2592 by 1944 pixels). This is a photo of the Moon taken a few days after OSIRIS-REx's Earth flyby. The squares on the image show the fields of view of the mission's science cameras.

Squish squash Earth

Squish squash Earth

29 images of Earth taken by the NavCam on OSIRIS-REx have been aligned on a cloud feature. Earth's apparent squishiness results from geometric distortion in the camera optics.

Correcting optical distortion in OSIRIS-REx TAGCAMS images

Correcting optical distortion in OSIRIS-REx TAGCAMS images

The left image was taken with an engineering model of an OSIRIS-REx NavCam. On the right, the image has been calibrated, with its optical distortion removed.

OSIRIS-REx tagging Bennu

OSIRIS-REx tagging Bennu

In mid-2020, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will use its TAGSAM (Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism) device to stir up and collect a sample of loose material from asteroid Bennu’s surface. That material, which may contain organic molecules that are the precursors to life in the Solar System, will be returned to Earth for study in 2023.

OSIRIS-REx Earth flyby timeline

OSIRIS-REx Earth flyby timeline

OSIRIS-REx observed Earth and the Moon with its cameras during four opportunities following its Earth gravity assist (EGA).

Bennu during Orbital A phase

Bennu during Orbital A phase

During Orbital A phase, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s NavCam 1 navigation camera regularly Bennu’s surface, even though its scientific camera suite (OCAMS) was not collecting data. The navigation team uses these “OpNav” (short for optical navigation) images to monitor the spacecraft’s close orbit around the asteroid. The photo has an exposure time of 1.4 milliseconds and was captured from a distance of 1.6 kilometers. The large boulder at center is about 50 meters across.

Bennu during Orbital A phase

Bennu during Orbital A phase

During Orbital A phase, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s NavCam 1 navigation camera regularly Bennu’s surface, even though its scientific camera suite (OCAMS) was not collecting data. The navigation team uses these “OpNav” (short for optical navigation) images to monitor the spacecraft’s close orbit around the asteroid. The photo has an exposure time of 1.4 milliseconds and was captured from a distance of 1.6 kilometers. The large boulder at center is about 50 meters across.

Bennu from the south, 17 December 2018

Bennu from the south, 17 December 2018

This image was captured by OSIRIS-REx’s MapCam imager on 17 December 2018 as the spacecraft flew under Bennu’s south pole during the mission’s Preliminary Survey of the asteroid. The image has an exposure time of 9.3 milliseconds and was taken from a distance of about 12 kilometers while the spacecraft was traveling away from the asteroid.

Earth from OSIRIS-REx MapCam

Earth from OSIRIS-REx MapCam

OSIRIS-REx flew past Earth on September 22, 2017 and took this photo shortly after. The Pacific Ocean covers nearly the entire visible globe. The Sun is nearly behind the spacecraft, and a bright area on the ocean near the center of the view is specular reflection from the watery surface. The image is a composite of three photos taken through infrared, green, and blue filters with exposure times of 1.5 milliseconds. The use of an infrared filter causes land that would appear green to appear red. "Icicles" at the top are caused by detector read-out register bleed-through, which occurs at the very short exposure times required for a close-up view of a bright planet.

31 views of Bennu from the north

31 views of Bennu from the north

OSIRIS-REx took a series of MapCam images of Bennu over the course of about 4 hours and 19 minutes on 4 December 2018, from 11.4 kilometers away at the beginning of the sequence to 9.3 kilometers at the end. This first pass was one of 5 flyovers of Bennu’s poles and equator that OSIRIS-REx conducted during its Preliminary Survey of the asteroid.

Bennu from the north, 4 December 2018

Bennu from the north, 4 December 2018

An animation of a full rotation of Bennu from a perspective near its north pole, as seen by OSIRIS-REx on 4 December 2018. The series of 31 MapCam images was taken over the course of about 4 hours and 19 minutes, from 11.4 miles away at the beginning of the sequence to 9.3 kilometers at the end. This first pass was one of 5 flyovers of Bennu’s poles and equator that OSIRIS-REx conducted during its Preliminary Survey of the asteroid.

OSIRIS-REx's instruments

OSIRIS-REx's instruments

OSIRIS-REx’s instrument deck is crowded. Most are science instruments, including OCAMS, OLA, OTES, OVIRS, and REXIS, but TAGCAMS and LIDAR are for navigation purposes.

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Earth just after flyby

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Earth just after flyby

When MapCam could see all of Earth, the higher-resolution PolyCam saw just a part of Earth. This image shows parts of Canada’s Northwest Territories, including Great Bear Lake right of and below center. High clouds cast shadows, blurring the distinction between cloudy skies above and snow-covered surface below. The photo was taken on 22 September 2017 at a range of 161,000 kilometers.

OSIRIS-REx Earth gravity assist

OSIRIS-REx Earth gravity assist

Bennu’s path around the Sun is inclined to Earth’s path.

Squiggly lines

Squiggly lines

OVIRS generates spectra, measurements of how much of each wavelength of sunlight a spot reflects. OVIRS measures reflected sunlight in wavelengths ranging from 0.4 to 4.3 micrometers (visible light spans 0.4 to 0.7 micrometers). In this region, inorganic materials and organic molecules preferentially absorb some of the light wavelengths. These absorptions create dips in the spectra. Spectroscopists read those dips to determine what minerals or chemicals are present. Because of the Pacific point of view during the flyby, our EGA+1 spectra mostly show spectral features signaling the presence of water and carbon dioxide. Unlike OVIRS, OTES does not need sunlight to work; it takes spectral readings in thermal infrared wavelengths, where materials radiate heat, from 5.6 to 100 micrometers. Like OVIRS, OTES measured absorptions due to water vapor and carbon dioxide gas, and we also saw absorptions due to ozone and methane in the spectra. The depths and widths of the absorption features could tell us the abundances of each atmospheric gas, but extracting that information requires computer modeling that we do not plan to do because it’s not applicable to Bennu science. OTES is also sensitive to temperature, and the radiance (intensity) of different locations on Earth increases or decreases with temperature. At wavelengths where we could see the ocean’s surface (8 to 9.5 micrometers), OTES measured temperatures of about 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit). At other wavelengths where there are atmospheric absorptions, we measured the lower temperatures in the atmosphere. Bennu won’t have an atmosphere to complicate our interpretations of the thermal infrared spectra, thankfully.

INSET: The OTES instrument gathered its spectral data at nearly the same time that MapCam took this photo. The yellow circles, each 800 kilometers (500 miles) in diameter, show the approximate locations and sizes of the spots on Earth scanned by OTES to produce these curves.

OSIRIS-REx MapCam view of Earth, just after flyby

OSIRIS-REx MapCam view of Earth, just after flyby

OSIRIS-REx’s MapCam looked at the Pacific Ocean through color filters just hours after the flyby when Earth filled its field of view. The photo was taken on 23 September 2017 at 00:03 from a range of 179,000 kilometers.

Bennu PolyCam mosaic

Bennu PolyCam mosaic

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km).

Bennu

Bennu

This image of asteroid Bennu was taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of around 80 km (50 miles).

OSIRIS-REx's approach surveys of asteroid Bennu (enhanced contrast)

OSIRIS-REx's approach surveys of asteroid Bennu (enhanced contrast)

This montage includes images from two full rotation surveys of asteroid Bennu by OSIRIS-REx on 25 and 27 November. The 25 November set was taken from a slightly longer distance than the 65 kilometer-range of the 27 November set. The images were taken from an animation released by the mission. The contrast has been enhanced to emphasize differences among surface materials.

OSIRIS-REx's approach surveys of asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx's approach surveys of asteroid Bennu

This montage includes images from two full rotation surveys of asteroid Bennu by OSIRIS-REx on 25 and 27 November. The 25 November set was taken from a slightly longer distance than the 65 kilometer-range of the 27 November set. The images were taken from an animation released by the mission. Click here for a fully enlarged version in lossless PNG format.

OSIRIS-REx's approach to Bennu

OSIRIS-REx's approach to Bennu

This video shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s view of Bennu during the final phase of its journey to the asteroid. From 17 August through 27 November, the spacecraft’s PolyCam camera imaged Bennu almost daily as the spacecraft covered the remaining 2.2 million kilometers toward the asteroid. The final images were obtained from a distance of about 65 km kilometers. During this period, OSIRIS-REx completed four maneuvers slowing the spacecraft’s velocity from approximately 491 m/s to 0.04 m/s relative to Bennu, which resulted in the slower approach speed at the end of the video.

Bennu at 300 pixels

Bennu at 300 pixels

OSIRIS-REx obtained this image of the asteroid Bennu on 16 November 2018 from a distance of 136 km. The image, which was taken by PolyCam, has been stretched to increase contrast between highlights and shadows.

Bennu from all angles montage, 2 November 2018

Bennu from all angles montage, 2 November 2018

This set of images shows the asteroid Bennu rotating for one full revolution. Over 4 hours and 11 minutes on 2 November 2018, OSIRIS-REx's PolyCam acquired a 2.5-millisecond image for every 10 degrees of the asteroid’s rotation. At the time of imaging, Bennu was approximately 197 km from the spacecraft, and appeared approximately 200 pixels wide in PolyCam’s frame.

Bennu from all angles, 2 November 2018

Bennu from all angles, 2 November 2018

This set of images shows the asteroid Bennu rotating for one full revolution. Over 4 hours and 11 minutes on 2 November 2018, OSIRIS-REx's PolyCam acquired a 2.5-millisecond image for every 10 degrees of the asteroid’s rotation. At the time of imaging, Bennu was approximately 197 km from the spacecraft, and appeared approximately 200 pixels wide in PolyCam’s frame.

Bennu as a point of light

Bennu as a point of light

On 17 August 2018, OSIRIS-REx obtained the first images of its target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 2.2 million km, or almost six times the distance between the Earth and Moon. This cropped set of five images was obtained by the PolyCam camera over the course of an hour for calibration purposes and in order to assist the mission’s navigation team with optical navigation efforts. Bennu is visible as a moving object against the stars in the constellation Serpens.

OSIRIS-REx spots Bennu

OSIRIS-REx spots Bennu

On 17 August 2018, OSIRIS-REx obtained the first images of its target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 2.2 million km, or almost 6 times the distance between the Earth and Moon. This cropped set of five images was obtained by the PolyCam camera over the course of an hour for calibration purposes and in order to assist the mission’s navigation team with optical navigation efforts. Bennu is visible as a moving object against the stars in the constellation Serpens.

Dual asteroid explorers

Dual asteroid explorers

Hayabusa2 (left) and OSIRIS-REx (right).

New digs for cosmic samples

New digs for cosmic samples

Plans for the new sample curation facility at Johnson Space Center, which will house samples from OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2.

OSIRIS-REx full mission operations timeline

OSIRIS-REx full mission operations timeline

A wide-angle view of the OSIRIS-REx Bennu mission timeline, as predicted in June 2018.

OSIRIS-REx preliminary survey operations timeline (prospective)

OSIRIS-REx preliminary survey operations timeline (prospective)

Most recently updated December 19, 2017

OSIRIS-REx Approach phase operations timeline (prospective)

OSIRIS-REx Approach phase operations timeline (prospective)

Most recently updated on April 23, 2018

Teeny impact on the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule heat shield

Teeny impact on the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule heat shield

A comparison of two images taken by StowCam on September 22, 2016 and March 2, 2017 shows the mark of a tiny impactor having struck the sample return capsule's heat shield some time in the intervening six months. A detail is shown inset at upper left.

The OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule imaged by Stowcam on March 2, 2017

The OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule imaged by Stowcam on March 2, 2017

This image of the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule (SRC) was taken on March 2, 2017, by the spacecraft’s StowCam imager as part of a visual checkout of the SRC conducted six months after launch. A small, dark spot is visible on the surface of the SRC that was not present during the checkout images taken after launch in 2016. Subsequent analysis has shown that this spot is an indentation approximately 2 mm across – the size of a poppy seed – that may have been caused by a particle hitting the SRC during flight. The SRC is the capsule on the spacecraft that will securely stow the sample of asteroid Bennu once it is collected, and it will ultimately detach from the spacecraft and land under parachutes in the Utah desert in 2023. The indentation visible in the image is located on the SRC’s ablative heat shield, which was designed to withstand being hit by particles and the high-speed entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. After further investigation, it was determined that the indentation will not affect the SRC’s performance.

OSIRIS-REx view of Earth and Moon

OSIRIS-REx view of Earth and Moon

This color composite image of Earth and the Moon was taken October 2, 2017, 10 days after OSIRIS-REx performed its Earth Gravity Assist maneuver, using MapCam, the mid-range scientific camera onboard the spacecraft. The distance to Earth was approximately 5,120,000 km—about 13 times the distance between the Earth and Moon.

Farewell look at the Moon from OSIRIS-REx

Farewell look at the Moon from OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx took the data for this image of the Moon on September 25, 2017, at a distance of 1.2 million kilometers, three days after the spacecraft's Earth flyby. The image looks slightly blurry because it has been enlarged by a factor of two from the original resolution of the data. We see predominantly lunar farside terrain, with Tsiolkovskiy crater at lower right and Mare Moscoviense at upper right. On the center left is the round Mare Crisium.

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth and the Moon together

OSIRIS-REx NavCam view of Earth and the Moon together

This black-and-white image of the Earth-Moon system was captured on September 25, 2017 by the wide-angle NavCam 1 on OSIRIS-REx. At the time this image was taken, the spacecraft was retreating from Earth after performing an Earth Gravity Assist maneuver on September 22. Earth and the Moon are 401,200 kilometers apart, and the spacecraft is 1,297,000 kilometers from Earth and 1,185,000 kilometers from the Moon.

OSIRIS-REx' first departing view of Earth after flyby

OSIRIS-REx' first departing view of Earth after flyby

This image was taken from a range of 110,000 kilometers, following the September 22, 2017 Earth Gravity Assist flyby. It was captured by NavCam 1, a wide-angle black-and-white imager that is one of three cameras comprising TAGCAMS (the Touch-and-Go Camera System), which is part of OSIRIS-REx’s guidance, navigation, and control system. NavCam images will track starfields and landmarks on Bennu to determine the spacecraft position during mission operations. It has been cropped and rotated so that Earth’s north pole is located at the top. The Baja Peninsula is visible above and to the right of center. Cloud cover and the Pacific Ocean dominate most of the image, but Hurricane Maria and the remnants of Hurricane Jose can be seen in the far upper-right portion of the image, off the east coast of the United States.

Ocean world from OSIRIS-REx MapCam

Ocean world from OSIRIS-REx MapCam

OSIRIS-REx flew past Earth on September 22, 2017 and took this photo shortly after. The Pacific Ocean covers nearly the entire visible globe. The Sun is nearly behind the spacecraft, and a bright area on the ocean near the center of the view is specular reflection from the watery surface. The image is a composite of three photos taken through infrared, green, and blue filters. The infrared filter causes land that would appear green to appear red. "Icicles" at the top are caused by detector read-out register bleed-through, which occurs at the very short exposure times required for a close-up view of a bright planet.

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Jupiter and 3 moons

OSIRIS-REx PolyCam view of Jupiter and 3 moons

On Feb. 12, 2017, OSIRIS-REx’s PolyCam imager captured this image of Jupiter (center) and three of its moons, Callisto (left), Io, and Ganymede. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 122 million kilometers from Earth and 673 million kilometers from Jupiter.

Dante Lauretta

Dante Lauretta

Dante Lauretta speaks to members of the press during an OSIRIS-REx briefing in Aug. 2016.

First light for OSIRIS-REx StowCam

First light for OSIRIS-REx StowCam

On September 22, 2016, two weeks after launch, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft switched on the Touch and Go Camera System (TAGCAMS) to demonstrate proper operation in space. This image of the spacecraft was captured by the StowCam portion of the system when it was 6.17 million kilometers away from Earth and traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per second around the Sun. Visible in the lower left hand side of the image is the radiator and sun shade for another instrument (SamCam) onboard the spacecraft. Featured prominently in the center of the image is the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), showing that our asteroid sample’s ride back to Earth in 2023 is in perfect condition. In the upper left and upper right portions of the image are views of deep space. No stars are visible due to the bright illumination provided by the sun.

OSIRIS-REx blazes skyward

OSIRIS-REx blazes skyward

OSIRIS-REx begins its journey to Bennu following a liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 8, 2016.

OSIRIS-REx soars into the sky

OSIRIS-REx soars into the sky

OSIRIS-REx begins its journey to Bennu following a liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 8, 2016.

Liftoff of OSIRIS-REx

Liftoff of OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx begins its journey to Bennu following a liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sept. 8, 2016.

OSIRIS-REx atop its rocket

OSIRIS-REx atop its rocket

On August 29, 2016, the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return spacecraft was placed atop its Atlas-Centaur rocket in preparation for launch.

OSIRIS-REx waiting for encapsulation

OSIRIS-REx waiting for encapsulation

Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is prepared for encapsulation in its payload fairing.

Inspecting the inside of the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule

Inspecting the inside of the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule

Taken inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center on July 13, 2016, during testing of the sample return capsule door.

OSIRIS-REx at Kennedy Space Center for final assembly

OSIRIS-REx at Kennedy Space Center for final assembly

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is revealed after its protective cover is removed inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2016.

OSIRIS-REx primary structure

OSIRIS-REx primary structure

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft structure marks the beginning of building the system that will fly to Bennu.

321 Science Presents: Asteroid Fact vs. Fiction

321 Science Presents: Asteroid Fact vs. Fiction

What is an asteroid and how much is science fact and how much science fiction? OSIRIS-REx presents the first 321Science video about asteroids. This video looks at asteroids in popular culture to explore how much is fact and how much is fiction.

Michael Puzio, age 9

Michael Puzio, age 9

Michael Puzio is the winner of the contest to name the asteroid Bennu.

Michael Puzio, age 9

Michael Puzio, age 9

Michael Puzio is the winner of the contest to name asteroid Bennu.

OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx

Screen capture from this video.

OSIRIS-REx returns a sample

OSIRIS-REx returns a sample

Screen cap taken from this video.

OSIRIS-REx grabs a sample

OSIRIS-REx grabs a sample

Screen capture from this video.


The naming contest for the near Earth asteroid currently named (101955) 1999 RQ36 is a partnership of the Planetary Society; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, the discoverers of (101955) 1999 RQ36; and the University of Arizona, who under principal investigator Dante Lauretta was chosen by NASA to lead the OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) asteroid sample return mission.

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