NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Observes Asteroid Bennu’s Boulder “Body Armor”


Tour of Asteroid Bennu

Asteroid Bennu’s remarkable terrain. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Asteroid Bennu’s boulder-covered surface gives it protection against small meteoroid impacts, according to observations of craters by spacecraft reached Bennu in 2018 and will return a sample to Earth in 2023.

“These observations give new insight into how asteroids like Bennu respond to energetic impacts,” said Edward (Beau) Bierhaus of Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colorado, lead author of a paper published in this month’s issue of OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite and surface-height data (topography) derived from the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter, a laser-ranging (lidar) instrument on the spacecraft.

Asteroid Bennu’s Boulder Covered Surface

This image shows asteroid Bennu’s boulder-covered surface. It was taken by the PolyCam camera on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on April 11, 2019, from a distance of 2.8 miles (4.5 km). The field of view is 211 ft (64.4 m), and the large boulder in the upper right corner of the image is 50 ft (15.4 m) tall. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was over the southern hemisphere, pointing PolyCam far north and to the west. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

“Measuring craters and their population on Bennu was exceptionally exciting,”…



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