A (NASA) spacecraft has gone into orbit around an ancient asteroid, setting a pair of records.
The Osiris-Rex spacecraft entered orbit Monday around the asteroid Bennu, seventy million miles (110 million kilometers) from Earth. It’s the tiniest celestial body ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.
Bennu is just one thousand and hundred feet (500 meters) across. The spacecraft’s laps are barely a mile (1.6 Km) above the Asteroid’s Surface, another record.
Osiris-Rex arrived at Bennu in early December and flew in formation with it till the latest maneuver. The goal is to grab gravel samples in 2020 for come back to Earth in 2023.
The New Year’s Eve milestone occurred Few hours before another NASA explorer, New Horizons, was set to fly past an icy space rock beyond Pluto.
Meanwhile, a NASA spacecraft on Tuesday flew past the most distant world ever studied by humans, ultima Thule, a frozen relic of the early solar system that might reveal how planets formed.
“Go New Horizons!” said lead scientist Alan Stern as a crowd cheered at the Johns Hopkins Applied physics lab in Maryland to mark the moment at 12:33 a.m. (0533 GMT) when the New Horizons craft aimed its cameras at the space rock four billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away.
“Never in history a spacecraft explored something so far away.”
The spaceship was to collect 900 pictures over the course of a few seconds as it shaved by at a distance of about Two Thousand miles (3,500 kilometers).
“Now it’s just a matter of time to see the data returning down,” said deputy project scientist John Spencer of the Southwest research Institute.
Scientists expect to learn whether the pass was successful around ten a.m. (1500 GMT).