NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has already accomplished much since it arrived at the Bennu space stone last year. The spacecraft successfully entered the orbit around the asteroid, scanned the surface with a laser and learned a lot about the surface. But its mission is far from being, and eventually the probe must withdraw from a daring assembly operation to return material from the rock's surface back to earth.
The mission team was surprised to see how rocky the surface of Bennu was and the junk-stretched outer layer will complicate the already tricky sample collection task. Now, NASA asks our help to decide where to move.
One of the biggest challenges for the OSIRIS-REx team is finding areas of the asteroid that are not covered by large rocks or steep craters. Ideally, the spacecraft will scrape a surface sample from an area with as few potentially hazardous properties as possible. For that purpose, NASA built a handy tool that lets you scan the surface of the asteroid and help the OSIRIS-REx team by marking things like craters, rocks and smaller rocks.
"For spacecraft security, the mission team needs a comprehensive catalog of all the boulders near the potential gathering sites and I invite members of the public to help OSIRIS – The REx mission team to accomplish this important task, says Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx Chief Inspector, in a statement.
The tool, which you can access through the Bennu site, provides a brief guide on how to mark each image before so that you release random images of the surface of the asteroid that must be marked. You must mark surface functions such as boulders and craters and then move on to the next image.
By referring your markings to the others who analyzed the same images, the researchers will be able to create a precise map of the safest and most dangerous areas on the surface, it is a neat way to involve science fans in a very important area rag, and you should definitely take it for a spin.