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NASA extends eight planetary missions, including sending OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Apophis

Apophis' path past the Earth in 2029
Apophis’ path past the Earth in 2029.

NASA today announced that it is extending the missions of eight different planetary probes.

The missions – Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), InSight lander, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons – have been selected for continuation, assuming their spacecraft remain healthy. Most of the missions will be extended for three years; however, OSIRIS-REx will be continued for nine years in order to reach a new destination, and InSight will be continued until the end of 2022, unless the spacecraft’s electrical power allows for longer operations.

The biggest news is the decision to extend OSIRS-REx so that it can rendezvous with the asteroid Apophis in 2029. The science team…

…will redirect the spacecraft to encounter Apophis, an asteroid roughly 1,200 feet (roughly 370 meters) in diameter that will come within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of Earth in 2029. OSIRIS-APEX will enter orbit around Apophis soon after the asteroid’s Earth flyby, providing an unprecedented close-up look at this S-type asteroid. It plans to study changes in the asteroid caused by its close flyby of Earth and use the spacecraft’s gas thrusters to attempt to dislodge and study the dust and small rocks on and below Apophis’ surface.

Apophis is a potentially dangerous asteroid, with a 1 in 150,000 chance it will hit the Earth in 2068. Getting as much information about it as soon as possible is crucial so that future generations will be prepared should its path eventually become a collision course.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

9 comments

  • John hare

    Assuming it was determined that it would hit dead center in 2068,a one cm/sec nudge in 2029 would make it miss by almost 6,000 km.

  • That fear-mongering orbital chart shows Apophis passing around 4,000 miles away from Earth — not 20,000!

  • Andi

    John – and vice versa. If their calculations were off, that 1 cm/sec velocity change could result in a collision.

  • Andi

    Michael, by the same token, using the Earth diameter as 8,000 miles, the diagram shows the Moon’s orbit to be about 64,000 mi radius. Methinks there are some scaling issues.

  • Andi and Michael: That map is merely the logo for the Apophis conference I covered in November 2020, and linked to in the post above. It was never intended to be an accurate portrayal of reality.

  • I also should have not changed the caption from that November 2020 post, which clearly stated this was the logo for the conference.

  • John

    I stand with Apophis.

  • Chris

    …will redirect the spacecraft to encounter Apophis, an asteroid roughly 1,200 feet (roughly 370 meters) in diameter that will come within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of Earth in 2029.

    In 2029 how many satellites (in geosynchronous orbit) would this endanger? 541 listed today:
    https://www.satsig.net/sslist.htm

  • Star Bird

    When soon can we send both the Clintons Obama and Biden to Elba II?

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