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NASA is preparing for a special mission to confront a giant asteroid approaching Earth

NASA is preparing for a special mission to confront a giant asteroid approaching Earth

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA is preparing for a special mission to deal with a giant asteroid that will come very close to Earth in the coming years.

To do this, the North American space agency will use the old OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will be renamed Osiris-Apex With the aim of getting as close as possible to the asteroid Apophis.

It should be remembered that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been operating for seven years To study the asteroid Bennu, He was able to extract a sample from it and bring it to Earth last September.

After studying several destinations (including Venus and several comets), NASA decided to send the spacecraft to Apophis, an “S-type” asteroid made of silicate, nickel, and iron materials, very different from the carbon-rich “C-type” asteroid. , like beano“The space agency explained.

Apophis is expected to come exceptionally close to Earth on April 13, 2029, when it will be about 32,000 kilometers from the planet, which is why it will serve as the ideal setting to study it up close.

Scientists estimate that asteroids the size of Apophis, with a diameter of about 340 metres, approach Earth only once every 7,500 years.NASA explained.

OSIRIS-APEX will study Apophis directly after this step, allowing us to see how its surface changes as it interacts with Earth's gravity.said Amy Simon, a mission project scientist based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Space scientists have been studying this asteroid and its dangers for several years, but the risk of it colliding with Earth is less than 2%, according to estimates.

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However, NASA is conducting this type of study with these bodies to assess the risks that the Earth will face in the future.

“What the team knows about Apophis could benefit planetary defense research, one of NASA’s top priorities,” the agency said.