The United States of America is chasing Asteroid Bennu with their small spacecraft OSIRIS-REx. If successful it will be the first U.S. probe to return samples from an asteroid. The Japanese are attempting the same thing right now with their Hayabusa 2 spacecraft. ORISIR-REx's arrival time is December 3.
But where is OSIRIS-REx right now?
ORISIS-REx is currently 36 (22) from meeting up with an asteroid made of carbon, minerals and rock, 492m (1,600 ft) in diameter.
Every second it gets 0.1 closer to Bennu.
Current distance from earth is 122,840,450 (76,329,487). The formation flying OSIRIS-REx and Bennu are travelling at a speed of 16,000 (9,942) relative to us. Compared to the sun, their speeds are an impressive 117,862 (73,236)
OSIRIS-REx is inching ever closer to Bennu. Since midnight last night, it got - km (- mi) closer. Since you started looking at this page it closed in by - km (- mi). It's also going --- km/h slower every day in it's orbit.
How it happened: OSIRIS-REx chasing asteroid Bennu
Launched on Sept 8, 2016, the spacecraft departed on it's epic chase. The tiny 9 ft tall NASA spacecraft accelerated to an impressive top speed of 133,441 km/h (83,400 mph). With it's target 228,931,288 km (142,251,307 mi) away the mission is incredibly challenging. OSIRIS-REx has broken a number of records such as the closest orbit around a space body.
The probe has mapped the surface of the entire asteroid and will touchdown to collect samples from the surface of Bennu and return to earth in September 2023 at the Utah Range.
Bennu is predicted to have a chance of a collision with earth. It will hopefully fly by earth on Sun, Sep 25, 2135, Current predictions have it pass within 367,353 km of earth, which is 1x the distance to the moon. See the ASTEROID BENNU page for more information.
Photo Credit and other: NASA, ESO/S. Brunier, NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Roman Tkachenko, Wikimedia Commons