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NASA's probe reaches asteroid that is a potential threat to Earth

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 • Tamil Comments

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, the space agency’s first effort to bring a sample of its dust from an asteroid back to Earth, reached its target today, two years after its launch in Florida. The spacecraft has been traveling through the solar system en route to its target Bennu for nearly 27 months now and will stay about 12 miles away from the asteroid.

The carbon-rich asteroid, which is one of the oldest known asteroids to NASA, was chosen from among half a million asteroids in the solar system because it orbits close to Earth’s path around the Sun, and is of the right size for the scientific study.

The mission is considered to be an important one because, by studying Bennu, which formed so long ago that some of the minerals inside of it are older than our solar system, scientists could get a clearer picture of the early solar system and understand how the planets formed.

Moreover, the mission could also help them better understand the threat that asteroids may pose to humans on Earth, since Bennu itself may impact Earth within a few centuries.

Once the required scientific data is collected, the spacecraft will depart Benny in 2021, and come down to Earth in 2023, if all goes according to the plan.