NASA / GSFC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / GSFC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Asteroid Bennu and Milky Way. Asteroid 101955 Bennu (discovered in 1999) will be visited in 2018 by NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission (launching 8 September 2016). The spacecraft will study it and return a sample to Earth for analysis in 2023. The asteroid may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. Initial Earth-based radar surveys indicate that Bennu's shape is a lumpy ball that gets thicker around the middle. After OSIRIS-REx surveys Bennu, a new model will be developed to map asteroid's shape. For the global maps, information from the spacecraft's instruments will be overlaid on the shape model. Image published in June 2016.
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