Like boot prints on the Moon, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft left its mark on asteroid Bennu. Now, new images — taken during the spacecraft's final fly-over on April 7, 2021 — reveal the aftermath of the historic Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample acquisition event from October 20th, 2020.
Bennu’s surface was disturbed in three different ways: by the force of the spacecraft touching down; by the sampling mechanism, which collected material by blowing gas into its collection filter; and by four of the spacecraft's back-away thrusters, which moved the spacecraft away from the sample site (marked with a red "X" in the second of these two images) and agitated dust and boulders on the surface.
The Nightingale sample site before the TAG event. The red circle indicates a boulder that was shown to have been displaced during the TAG event (the same boulder is shown in a red circle in the after image).
The Nightingale sample site after the TAG event. The red "X" indicates the approximate location where OSIRIS-REx contacted the asteroid's surface. The red circle shows the same boulder that was circled in the before image.