NASA boffins behind mission The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Detection, Defense, Regolith Explorer (Osiris-Rex) finally selected a test site on the boulder-scattered surface of the asteroid Bennu.
In a press statement, a site called Nightingale — situated in a crater high in the northern hemisphere of Bennu — was noted by the American Space Agency as the best spot for the Osiris-REx spacecraft to grab its sample.
The Osiris-Rex group has been analyzing close-range data from four candidate sites over the past few months to identify the best choice for the collection of asteroid samples.
Such locations, called Sandpiper, Osprey, Kingfisher, and Nightingale, got select for investigation because they pose the fewest threats to the safety of the spacecraft while also offering the opportunity to collect large samples.
Researchers Talk About Nightingale
“After thoroughly evaluating all four candidate sites. We made our final decision based on which site has the greatest amount of fine-grained material. And how easily the spacecraft can access that material while keeping the spacecraft safe,” Dante Lauretta. He is the Osiris-Rex principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said.
Nightingale location meets these requirements highest of the four applicants and eventually ensures mission success best, Lauretta said.
The researchers said the Nightingale site is about 140 meters wide in a northern crater. The regolith of Nightingale — or rocky ground layer — is black, with an almost smooth crater, according to the team.
The temperatures in the area on the asteroid with well-preserved surface material. They are lower than elsewhere. This is because the site is located far north, Nasa noted in the report.
According to the researchers, the crater could be relatively young with freshly exposed regolith,. This means a pristine sample of the asteroid could collect from this region. It provides deep insights into the history of Bennu.