The OSIRIS-REx probe continues to orbit around the asteroid Bennu and has sent us a new set of images of the small rock it is studying. The level of detail of those images will leave you with your mouth open.
The photos were taken on January 17, during an approach just 1.6 kilometers from the surface of the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx photographed the object in detail with its NavCam 1 camera, which, as its own name suggests, is what it uses to maintain its orbit around the asteroid.
These are the images in detail. They show the south pole of the asteroid and have been taken at a shutter speed of 1/700.
OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016 and its objective was to study an asteroid close to Earth and take samples of its surface. The probe arrived at the beginning of December 2018 and managed to enter orbit in January of this year. Bennu is only 518 meters in diameter (1,700 feet). It is the smallest object around which a human ship has entered into orbit. If we consider it in height, the asteroid is barely higher than the Willis Tower in Chicago or the Freedom Tower in New York.
Orbiting around something so small is a huge challenge because the gravitational field of an object of that size is very weak. That is the reason why OSIRIS-REx takes photos from so close. You need them to calibrate the orbit.
Since the mission began we have received many photos of Bennu, but these are the sharpest and detailed to date. [ Bennu Misision ]