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Close-up of Bennu’s north pole

Bennu's north pole
Click for full image.

The OSIRIS-REx science team has released a very high resolution image taken of Bennu’s north pole region. To the right is the most interesting part of that image, cropped by me to show here.

This image shows a region near asteroid Bennu’s north pole on the terminator line between the asteroid’s day and night sides. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s MapCam camera obtained the image on Feb. 20 while in orbit around the asteroid from a distance of 1.1 miles (1.8 km). At this distance, each pixel covers approximately 4.5 inches (12 cm) of Bennu’s surface. The largest boulder, located slightly left of the center, measures around 52 feet (16 meters) across, which, for scale, is the length of the trailer on a semi-truck.

In other words, if this was a truck stop along an interstate highway, you could see the driver getting out of that semi to head inside for dinner.

The spacecraft right now is not doing much science work. They are in what they call the Orbital A phase of the mission, where they are in a very low orbit along the terminator line between night and day — generally a mile above the surface — and are using this orbit to give the engineering team practice maneuvering at such an orbit while they transition from using the stars to navigate to using landmarks on the surface.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

5 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    1.1 Miles is less than 6000 feet up – atmospheric oxygen is enough at that that altitude. (10K for masks or sealed cabin) And yes, I know Bennu ain’t got no* Oh-Two, I’m making a point about how amazingly close the craft is to the surface. Every time I see reports like this I am amazed at the precision we can achieve from so far away.
    * “I ain’t got no, a no, no, no!” – Mick and the boys

  • wayne

    Col–
    Good stuff.

    tangentially….
    Pink Floyd –
    “Breathe”
    https://youtu.be/fCy4X9k0E8c
    3:54
    (great visuals)

  • Col Beausabre

    Thanks, Wayne. Let’s see, we’re precise to 1 mile at a distance of 12 million miles, don’t have my calculator handy but I think that’s something like 0.0000008 percent !

  • wayne

    Col Beausabre–
    highly enjoy your stuff!

    Correct me if I’m mistaken; we’re talking Newtonian-physics with only minor General Relativity corrections, correct?

    tangentially (cuz’ that’s what I do)—

    Pink Floyd –
    “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”
    >>synced fairy well with Mars Direct animation
    https://youtu.be/a9ntxCcjVjE
    9:47

  • wayne

    “How and Why Is NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Visiting Asteroid Bennu?”
    NASA; December 2018
    https://youtu.be/UhSemu3P8aY
    6:39

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