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A NASA spacecraft is about to slingshot around Earth to meet up with an asteroid

  • Posted by admin on September 19, 2017

On Friday, a spacecraft the size of an SUV will slingshot around Earth’s South Pole, altering its trajectory through space. The probe is NASA’s OSIRIS-REx, and its upcoming maneuver around our planet is known as a gravity assist — a way to harness Earth’s gravity to alter its orbit. The move is critical, since it will put OSIRIS-REx on course to meet up with an asteroid in the fall of 2018.

OSIRIS-REx launched last year with a relatively straightforward purpose: grab a sample of rocks from an asteroid and bring them back to Earth. If all goes well, the vehicle should retrieve the largest sample ever collected from an asteroid, and give scientists the chance to study the space rock components in more detail than ever before. But first,…

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