God of Chaos: NASA has discovered something exciting, and They want to learn more about it. They will study the inside of a giant space rock coming close to Earth.
Instead of retiring the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, it will be given a new name and used to study the asteroid.
The spacecraft, now called OSIRIS-APEX, has recently returned from a seven-year mission to gather samples from the space rock Bennu.
During its next mission, the spaceship will explore an asteroid named Apophis. It is predicted to be the most prominent asteroid to come close to Earth in 2029.
“We learned a lot while studying Bennu, but now we have even more questions for our next target,” said Amy Simon, the project scientist for the mission, in a NASA statement.
The asteroid will come close to Earth’s surface on April 13, 2029, getting closer than some satellites around the planet.
Scientists believe that because the asteroid will be so close to Earth, it might help us find answers to questions we’ve had for a long time, such as how planets are formed.
“The close approach is like a big natural test,” said Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina, the main person in charge of the OSIRIS-APEX project, in a statement from NASA.
They also mentioned that tidal forces and the gathering of rock and dust are essential processes that might be involved in creating planets.
They could help us understand how the pieces of rock in the early solar system came together to form complete planets.
The asteroid Apophis is named after an Egyptian god, Chaos, about 1,000 feet wide.
In 2004, scientists initially thought there was a 3% possibility of the considerable asteroid hitting Earth when they first discovered it. But after more research, they have confirmed there is no chance of it colliding with our planet.
Simon explained that OSIRIS-APEX will observe Apophis right after it goes by Earth, which will help us see how its surface changes when it interacts with Earth’s gravity.
As Apophis comes close to Earth, its surface might change, letting scientists study more of the materials on the asteroid.
OSIRIS-APEX will capture pictures of the approaching Apophis for two weeks before the space rock comes close to Earth.
After that, the research spacecraft will reach April 13, 2029, and study Apophis for a year and a half.
When the spacecraft reaches the asteroid’s surface, it won’t land on it. Instead, it will use its thrusters to push the surface and uncover material scientists can collect for study.