NASA sends a spacecraft to meet with the "God of Chaos", which has not been seen for 7500 years
NASA has sent its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which recently delivered soil from the asteroid Bennu to Earth, on a new long journey to explore the asteroid Apophis (or Apep - a god in Egyptian mythology, the embodiment of chaos and the enemy of the sun god Ra). The meeting with the asteroid will be extremely exceptional, as it approaches our planet only once every few thousand years!
This is stated in a message published on the website of the American space agency. The spacecraft will have years of flight ahead of it.
According to NASA, OSIRIS-REx also received a new name for its new mission. It is now called OSIRIS-APEX. In almost six years, the spacecraft will be able to study the extremely close passage of Apophis past the Earth.
"The former OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is embarking on a journey to study the asteroid Apophis and take advantage of its passage by Earth in 2029, something that has not happened since the beginning of human history," the agency said in a statement.
Apophis, also sometimes called the God of Chaos, is expected to be closest to Earth on April 13, 2029. On that day, he will approach the home of mankind at a distance of about 32,000 kilometers. While this sounds like a "very far away" distance, it is not really true. Some artificial satellites are farther from Earth than Apophis will fly and, as scientists suggest, the extremely rare visitor will probably be seen in the Eastern Hemisphere of the planet.
Apophis is an asteroid that measures about 370 meters across. According to scientists, it has not come this close to Earth for 7500 years.
Scientists expect that the Earth's gravity will have an impact on the asteroid, so OSIRIS-APEX will study the effects of this interaction to see "how the surface will change."
Scientists do not rule out that the "God of Chaos" may experience landslides and earthquakes during its flight past the Earth.
Unlike the meeting with the asteroid Bennu, when OSIRIS-REx made a short-term landing to collect soil, this time the spacecraft will be in close proximity to Apophis and will study the asteroid for 18 months.
NASA expects OSIRIS-APEX to also map the asteroid's surface and analyze the chemical composition of the rock.
It is reported that a maximum approach of about 5 meters is also planned, which will allow scientists to "look into the material that lies below."
Although it is still five years away from approaching Earth, scientists will observe it as it approaches the first of six close passes with the Sun.
It was only in September 2023 that OSIRIS-REx returned from a seven-year mission during which it collected samples from the asteroid Bennu and then returned these debris and dust to Earth. Despite some difficulties with opening the container, scientists are already talking about very interesting results of the study of Bennu rocks.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that in October 2024, the asteroid 2007 FT3, "lost" in space, will make the closest approach to the Earth.