Thirty Seconds on Asteroid Bennu: Animation

  • Released Thursday, July 7, 2022

On October 20, 2020, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected a sample of asteroid Bennu. The event revealed surprising details about Bennu’s surface and near-subsurface.

00:01 - One second after contact, OSIRIS-REx injected Bennu with pressurized nitrogen gas, causing an explosion of particles and driving loose material into its sample collector.

00:06 - Six seconds after contact, while it was still sinking into Bennu, OSIRIS-REx fired its thrusters to begin the back-away maneuver.

00:09 - Nine seconds after contact, thrusters on board OSIRIS-REx halted its descent into Bennu, pushing it away from the asteroid, and blasting loose material from the sample site. The spacecraft’s arm had sunk almost half a meter beneath the surface – far deeper than expected, confirming that Bennu’s surface is incredibly weak.

00:16 - Sixteen seconds after contact, the arm fully reemerged from the subsurface. OSIRIS-REx had collected a handful of material and kicked up roughly six tons of loose rock.

00:30 - Thirty seconds after contact, it shut off its thrusters and drifted away from Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will return its sample to Earth in September 2023.

Learn more about the surface properties of asteroid Bennu.

For More Information


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, July 7, 2022.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 11:44 AM EDT.


This visualization is related to the following missions: