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Asteroid chasing spacecraft OSIRIS-REx sends back pictures of Jupiter

OSIRIS-REx launched from Space Coast last year

The PolyCam imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of Jupiter (center) and three of its moons, Callisto (left), Io, and Ganymede on Feb. 12.
The PolyCam imager aboard NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft captured this image of Jupiter (center) and three of its moons, Callisto (left), Io, and Ganymede on Feb. 12. (NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Asteroid-bound spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is doing some sightseeing through the solar systems on the way to its destination Asteroid Bennu, according to NASA.

The spacecraft recently photographed Jupiter and three of its moons while on the hunt for Earth Trojan asteroids.

OSIRIS-REx, that launched from Florida's Space Coast in September, is designed to return a pristine sample of the potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid.

The image (above) was taken Feb. 12, 418 million miles from Jupiter, using PolyCam, the spacecraft’s long range camera. The picture of Jupiter and moons Callisto, lo and Ganymede was made by combining two copies of the same image, according to NASA.

The space agency has a spacecraft orbiting the giant gas planet, too. The Juno spacecraft arrived in July to study Jupiter’s atmosphere and determine if the planet has a core.

After OSIRIS-REx launched Sept. 8 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft has a seven-year journey to Bennu and back.

Currently, OSIRIS-REx is in the sun-orbiting phase of its journey.

The sample collection is set to happen in 2019, when OSIRIS-REx will fly alongside Bennu to collect a sample using the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism instrument. The spacecraft will then return the sample to Earth dropping it by parachute in the Utah desert.

The NASA spacecraft will be the first U.S. mission to return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid, the second to ever return to Earth. Japanese space agency JAXA successfully returned a sample in 2010.

Learn more more about Jupiter below.


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