The NASA OSIRIS-REx mission has performed its final course correction to fine-tune the landing location of its capsule containing samples from the asteroid Bennu. The landing is scheduled for September 24th.
Asteroid Bennu is considered one of the most dangerous, and according to NASA, there is a low probability of it impacting Earth in the year 2180, 157 years from now. In order to study this asteroid, NASA has sought the assistance of Vatican experts, known for their expertise in astronomy and meteorites.
The Vatican has the Vatican Observatory, a center where Jesuit scientists and mathematicians dedicate themselves to observing outer space. Friar Robert J. Macke, an expert in space rocks working at this observatory, has invented and built the machine that will measure the samples from the asteroid. Motivated by his vocation, Macke has chosen not to receive payment for this mission.
Regarding the last course correction performed on September 17th, it moved the planned landing location for the sample capsule around 12.5 kilometers eastward, towards the center of its predetermined landing zone in Utah.
The sample capsule, containing rocks and dust collected almost three years ago from asteroid Bennu, will be released at an altitude of approximately 102,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface this weekend.
This pristine material from asteroid Bennu will help scientists better understand the formation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago and possibly the origin of life on Earth.
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