Planets and Moons  ID: 4795

OSIRIS-REx – Global Model of Asteroid Bennu

When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu in December 2018, its close-up images confirmed what mission planners had predicted nearly two decades before: Bennu is made of loose material weakly clumped together by gravity, and shaped like a spinning top. This major validation, however, was accompanied by a major surprise. Scientists had expected Bennu’s surface to consist of fine-grained material like a sandy beach, but instead OSIRIS-REx was greeted by a rugged world littered with boulders – the size of cars, the size of houses, the size of football fields.

The main science goal of OSIRIS-REx is to briefly touch down on Bennu and collect a sample for return to Earth, but the asteroid’s unexpected roughness could pose a hazard to the spacecraft. Areas for safely touching down are fewer and smaller than anticipated, and OSIRIS-REx will have to navigate to them with unprecedented accuracy.

The 3D animations on this page were created using laser altimetry data and imagery of Bennu taken by OSIRIS-REx.

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Visualization Credits

Kel Elkins (USRA): Lead Visualizer
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Producer
Erin Morton (University of Arizona): Communications Lead
Nancy Neal-Jones (NASA/GSFC): Communications Lead
Ian Jones (ADNET): Technical Support
Eric Sokolowsky (GST): Technical Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Data provided by NASA/University of Arizona/CSA/York University/MDA.

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Data Used:
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Asteroid
SVS >> Elevation data
SVS >> Imaging
SVS >> Orbit
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Solar System >> Orbits
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Bennu
SVS >> Transfer Orbit
SVS >> Map
SVS >> Sample Return
SVS >> Animations
SVS >> Mapping
SVS >> Maneuver
SVS >> Site
SVS >> Candidate