Space station OSIRIS-REx continues to explore near-earth asteroid Bennu, in the end, she intends to collect samples of its soil and send them to the Ground. Convergence should happen in 2020, so NASA, in conjunction with Internet users now creating a detailed map of its surface. After studying it, researchers will be able to choose the most suitable place for collecting rocks, which later will be able to tell whether the asteroids could have delivered amino acids and water on the early Earth.
The spacecraft is equipped with cameras, MapCam, and PolyCam, which has already managed to make a lot of photographs of the surface of the asteroid. Recently some of them were published on the website of the project — they are clearly visible boulders of various sizes, and especially among them is the “Boulder No. 1” with a size of 52 meters. For example, photos taken at a distance of 4.8 kilometers from the surface, he casts a huge shadow on the surrounding stones.
Other pictures show that the asteroid is extremely small regolith — basically, it really is covered with boulders of different sizes and shapes. It is noteworthy that some of them have cracks and other damage likely associated with exfoliation of rocks during space weathering, exposure to sunlight and damaging strikes other objects.
In addition to the boulders, on the surface of Bennu, there are craters. One of the largest is at the South pole — the picture was taken March 14, with a distance of 3.6 kilometers from the surface of the object. Researchers also already know that the asteroid has minerals with some water content — the discovery can be read in our material.