The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began the final stage of the flight to the asteroid Bennu, to which it will arrive in December 2018. The scientific program of the mission will last two years, during this time the device will take the soil from the surface of the asteroid, the capsule with which it will drop to Earth in September 2023. This is reported in a press release on the NASA website.
The automatic interplanetary station OSIRIS-REx was launched into space using the Atlas V launch vehicle in September 2016. The device will reach the main goal – 500-meter near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu – in December 2018, and the total mission will last about seven years. Bennu belongs to the Apollo group and refers to the carbon asteroids of the spectral class B , the study of such objects can provide important information about the formation and evolution of the solar system. In addition, it is believed that carbon-rich asteroids, such as Bennu, may be responsible for supplying complex organic compounds, such as amino acids, and water to a young Earth.
Now the station is at a distance of about two million kilometers from the asteroid and the stage of the final approach to it began. According to the plan, the scientific program of the mission will last about two years, during this time the station will examine from orbit the composition of the surface layer of the asteroid and its structure, as well as measure the effect of Yarkovsky , which may affect the orbits of near-Earth asteroids. After studying the asteroid OSIRIS-REx with a special manipulator will collect a sample of soil. During the contact, the instrument blows the asteroid with nitrogen and lifts dust and rock fragments from the surface. After the ground was collected, in March 2021 the spacecraft will go back, it is expected that OSIRIS-REx will drop a ground capsule in September 2023.
Another active mission for the delivery of soil from the asteroid is the automatic Hayabusa-2 station . On June 27, 2018, the station arrived at its target, the asteroid 162173 Ryugu , which belongs to the most common type of asteroids – class C. Studying the chemical properties of its substance will allow scientists to judge the composition of the protosolar nebula.