NASA has released a stunning image of asteroid Bennu thanks to the agency’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. According to NASA, the spacecraft captured the image from an orbit just 0.4 miles above the asteroid’s surface earlier on June 13. This also marks the closest ever orbit by the spacecraft.
NASA launched the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft back in 2016 to the asteroid. Shortly afterwards, the spacecraft reached the asteroid and stared taking images which showed that Bennu in fact has a rocky surface along with water. At the moment, NASA wants the spacecraft to spend next two years to search for the ideal site to collect samples. After collecting samples, the spacecraft will make its way back to Earth in September 2023 to help scientists understand the asteroid’s make up.
Along with the image, NASA revealed that Osiris took the image shortly after orbital insertion on June 13 from a distance of 0.4 miles. You can check out the image below.
This is the view from the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body.
This navigation image of asteroid Bennu was taken shortly after orbital insertion on June 13 from a distance of 0.4 miles (690 m).
— NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) June 17, 2019
Thanks to its record-breaking orbit, the spacecraft’s NavCam took the image which showcases details as small as 0.5m at the center of the image. NASA revealed that right now the spacecraft is orbiting Bennu from just 0.4 miles above its surface.