The OSIRIS-REx is travelling towards asteroid Bennu.
An image taken by a NASA probe on its way to a rendezvous with a mysterious asteroid offers a powerful illustration of how small we really are.
The image was captured by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft as it passed three million miles from Earth on its way to the asteroid Bennu.
Launched more than a year ago, Osiris-Rex used Earth’s gravity as a slingshot to put it on a path towards the asteroid Bennu.
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Osiris-Rex should reach the small, roundish asteroid next year and, in 2020, collect some of its gravel for return to Earth.
If all goes well, scientists should get the samples in 2023.
NASA says, ‘At the highest philosophical level, OSIRIS-REx is a mission to figure out where we came from, as asteroids are remnants from the formation of our solar system. But while the spacecraft might tell us some things about where we have been and where we are headed, it also can remind us of where we are right now.
On October 2, 2017, the MapCam instrument on OSIRIS-REx captured the data for a composite image (above) of the Earth and Moon.
Three images (different color wavelengths) were combined and color-corrected to make the composite, and the Moon was “stretched” (brightened) to make it more easily visible.