OSIRIS-REx will be headed to asteroid Apophis as OSIRIS-APEX
Remember that asteroid that we almost thought was going to annihilate us? Apophis? Well, turns out we're gonna survive, and now NASA has decided to send OSIRIS-REx to check it out. For now, planetary scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona is the principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx. “Because of its flawless performance at Bennu during the prime mission, the spacecraft maintains enough resources,” DellaGiustina told SYFY WIRE. Apophis will whiz by Earth on April 13, 2029 — which happens to be Friday the 13th — but we aren’t destined to live a real-life version of Asteroid vs.
There is more danger on the horizon for Apophis than there is for us. "Apophis will be substantially affected by Earth's gravitational pull during its close encounter in 2029," she said. OSIRIS-APEX will be getting close enough to it to make unprecedented observations. While the spacecraft won’t pick up a sample this time, it will fire its thrusters near the surface to expose some of the subsurface.
"At Apophis, we know getting into orbit around such a small object will be a challenge," said DellaGiustina. S-type asteroids like Apophis were not previously thought to have any water ice, which had only been observed on C-types, but two of the largest ones recently disproved that. "Data of Apophis returned by the OSIRIS-REx spectrometers — which were designed to detect water — can help quantify the even small amounts of water that stony asteroids may have delivered to early Earth. After leaving the Bennu samples behind, OSIRIS-APEX will take off for Apophis in October 2023.
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