Help NASA decide where to land on asteroid | 5/27/2019 | Eleanor Imster
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This image shows a view of asteroid Bennu’s surface in a region near the equator. It was taken by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on March 21, 2019, from a distance of 2.2 miles (3.5 km). For scale, the light-colored rock in the upper left corner of the image is 24 ft (7.4 m) wide. Image via NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona.

You can help NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu choose its sample collection site on the asteroid – and also look for anything else that might be scientifically interesting.

OSIRIS-REx - Spacecraft - Bennu - December - Asteroid

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been at Bennu since December 3, 2018, and is now orbiting the asteroid. The mission’s main goal is to obtain a sample from the asteroid and return the sample to Earth for a detailed analysis. The mission team needs to find a landing and sample collection site that’s safe, conducive to sample collection and worthy of closer study.

One of the big challenges, which the team discovered after the spacecraft arrived at the asteroid, is that Bennu has an extremely rocky surface and each boulder presents a danger to the spacecraft’s safety. To expedite the sample selection process, the team is asking citizen scientist volunteers to develop a hazard map by counting boulders.

Between - July - Bennu - Mapper

Between now and July 10, you can volunteer as a Bennu mapper here.

If you volunteer, you’ll be doing the same tasks that planetary scientists do – measuring Bennu’s boulders and mapping its rocks and craters – through the use of a simple web interface. NASA said the boulder mapping work involves a high degree of precision, but it’s not difficult. You can also mark other scientifically interesting features on the asteroid for further investigation.

Effort - NASA - Project - CosmoQuest - CosmoQuest

For this effort, NASA is partnering with a project called CosmoQuest. To use the CosmoQuest mapping app, you need a computer with a large screen and...
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