Nasa’s Osiris-REx spacecraft on way to asteroid Bennu successfully executes first deep space maneuver

Nasa’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (Osiris-REx) spacecraft made its first deep space maneuver, using the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thrusters on board. The maneuver has put the Osiris-REx mission on track for an Earth flyby in September 2017. The Earth flyby in 2017 with provide a gravitational slingshot to the spacecraft. The spacecraft will use the gravity from Earth to assist its mission to the asteroid Bennu.

The trajectory of the spacecraft is not a straight line between the Earth and the asteroid. The Earth, the Asteroid and the Spacecraft are all in orbit around the Sun. The spacecraft will actually go beyond the orbit of Bennu, before coming back for the Earth flyby in 2017. The trajectory for the spacecraft can be seen in this video.

In October 2016, the TCM thrusters were fired for the first time, to verify that they were working and to fine tune the trajectory. The mission is on a hunt to look for the origins of the signs of life, by studying the composition of the Asteroid Bennu. The mission is expected to bring back samples from the asteroid in 2023, the first time that humans have attempted to bring back samples from an asteroid.

The asteroid Bennu is listed on the list of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHA) and there is a slight chance that the asteroid may devastatingly impact the earth hundreds of years into the future. Conspiracy theorists have used this piece of information to conclude that there are thousands of dangerous asteroids heading towards the world to cause Armageddon. The Osiris-REx mission is not proof of a destructive rain of asteroids.

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