The European Space Agency (ESA) has published the first image of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaching Earth. On board is a capsule with soil samples of the asteroid Bennu.
The image was taken on September 16, when OSIRIS-REx was at a distance of 4.66 million km from Earth. The spacecraft detected the 1-meter OGS telescope (Optical Ground Station). It belongs to ESA and is part of the Teide Observatory located on the island of Tenerife.
The OGS telescope was commissioned in 1998. It was originally intended to track space debris, and was also used in tests of a laser communication system. But later, its functionality was expanded, and it also began to be used to search for near-Earth asteroids.
In order to capture OSIRIS-REx, OGS took 90 separate pictures with a 36-second exposure time each. Then they were combined into a single image, taking into account the motion factor of the spacecraft. Because of this, the background stars in the picture turned from dots into curved lines.
On September 24, OSIRIS-REx will approach the Earth and drop a capsule with soil samples of the asteroid Bennu. After entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it will have to land on the territory of the test site in Utah. The spacecraft will perform a maneuver and return to interplanetary space. Its next target will be the asteroid Apophis. In April 2029, OSIRIS-REx will get closer to it, after which it will study the small body for the next 18 months.
According to https://www.esa.int
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