Space

May 1, 2013

NASA spacecraft will visit asteroid with new name

An asteroid that will be explored by a NASA spacecraft has a new name, thanks to a third-grade student in North Carolina.

NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will visit the asteroid now called Bennu, named after an important ancient Egyptian avian deity. OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled to launch in 2016, rendezvous with Bennu in 2018 and return a sample of the asteroid to Earth in 2023.

The name for the carbon-rich asteroid, designated in the scientific community as (101955) 1999 RQ36, is the winning entry in an international student contest. Nine-year-old Michael Puzio suggested the name because he imagined the Touch-and-Go Sample Mechanism arm and solar panels on OSIRIS-REx look like the neck and wings in drawings of Bennu, which Egyptians usually depicted as a gray heron. Puzio wrote the name suits the asteroid because it means “the ascending one,” or “to shine.”

TAGSAM will collect a sample from Bennu and store it for return to Earth. The sample could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules that may have contributed to the development of life on Earth. The mission will be a vital part of NASA’s plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. NASA recently announced an asteroid initiative proposing a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities for the first human mission to an asteroid while also accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.

“There were many excellent entries that would be fitting names and provide us an opportunity to educate the world about the exciting nature of our mission,” said Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona in Tucson, a contest judge and the principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission.

“The information about the composition of Bennu and the nature of its orbit will enable us to explore our past and better understand our future.”
More than 8,000 students, all younger than 18, from more than 25 countries worldwide entered the “Name that Asteroid!” contest last year. Each contestant submitted one name with a maximum of 16 characters and a short explanation for the name.

The contest was a partnership with The Planetary Society in Pasadena, Calif.; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass.; and the University of Arizona. The partners assembled a panel to review the submissions and submit a top choice to the International Astronomical Union Committee for Small Body Nomenclature. The IAU is the governing body that officially names a celestial object.

“Bennu struck a chord with many of us right away,” said Bruce Betts, director of projects for the Planetary Society and a contest judge. “While there were many great entries, the similarity between the image of the heron and the TAGSAM arm of OSIRIS-REx was a clever choice. The parallel with asteroids as both bringers of life and as destructive forces in the solar system also created a great opportunity to teach.”

The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program survey team discovered the asteroid in 1999, early in NASA’s Near-Earth Objects Observation Program, which detects and catalogs near-Earth asteroids and comets.

“The samples of Bennu returned by OSIRIS-REx will allow scientists to peer into the origin of the solar system and gain insights into the origin of life,” said Jason Dworkin, an OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Goddard will provide overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. The University of Arizona is the principal investigator institution. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages New Frontiers for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
ATK

ATK completes installation of world’s largest solid rocket motor for ground test

ATK The first qualification motor for NASA’s Space Launch Systems booster is installed in ATK’s test stand in Utah – ready for a March 11 static-fire test. NASA and ATK have completed installing the first Spac...
 
 
ULA photograph

Third Lockheed Martin-built MUOS satellite launched, responding to commands

ULA photograph The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing successfully launched the third Mobile User Objective System satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Navy at 8:04 p.m. Jan. 20, 2015, from Launch Complex 41 at...
 
 
ULA photograph

ULA successfully launches Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-3

ULA photograph The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing successfully launched the third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Navy at 8:04 p.m. Jan. 20, 2015, from Launch Comple...
 

 

Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion supports launch, flight of third MUOS satellite

Aerojet Rocketdyne played a critical role in successfully placing the third of five planned Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-3) satellites, designed and built by Lockheed Martin, into orbit for the U.S. Navy. The mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, with five Aerojet...
 
 
LM-MUOS-satellite

U.S. Navy poised to Launch Lockheed Martin-built MUOS-3 satellite

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the third Mobile User Objective System satellite, MUOS-3, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan. 20 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch win...
 
 

NASA, NOAA find 2014 warmest year in modern record

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-ilg75uJZZU?enablejsapi=1&rel=0 The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists. The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, acc...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>