NASA's OSIRIS-REx is preparing to touch down on asteroid Bennu's surface on October 20th. The spacecraft will go down to collect rock and dust samples from an area scientists are calling the Nightingale Crater. (Sept. 28)
THOMAS ZURBUCHEN: We didn't even know Bennu existed that until it was discovered in 1999.
DANTE LAURETTA: Because they're carbon-rich asteroids, they're generally very dark, they reflect very little sunlight, so understanding or interpreting their spectra is a challenge.
Bennu is one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids.
MIKE MOREAU: This animation is showing a trajectory-- the trajectory that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will follow during tag and some of the perspective of the spacecraft will have during this event.
This visualization attempts to convey the size and scale of Nightingale and the challenge of navigating OSIRIS-REx's tag in this location.
The orange circle that you can see shows the original size of the tag region O-REx was designed for, an area of 50 meters diameter projected around the Nightingale crater.
The blue circle is about eight meters in diameter, and this shows the primary safe area within the Nightingale crater that we're targeting and where we expect to actually contact the surface.