NASA, The famous space agency has redirected this Osiris-Rex spacecraft From its recent mission to asteroid Bennu to study another celestial body: Apophis, This asteroid, named after the Egyptian God of Chaos, is expected to pass remarkably A distance of 32,000 kilometers from the Earth’s surface on April 13, 2029. This event presents a unique opportunity for scientists to gather valuable data about this 370 meter diameter asteroid.
Apophis: a mythological serpent in space
- In Egyptian mythology, Apophis is depicted as a serpent-shaped god, representing darkness and chaos aimed at destroying the world.
- Fortunately, its namesake asteroid poses no such threat. just like the earth, Apophis orbits the Sun, periodically approaching our planet.
- The upcoming close encounter, scheduled for April 13, 2029, is set to bring Apophis closer than any example recorded in history, making it visible to the naked eye in a variety of areas.
OSIRIS-APEX: Old spacecraft on a new mission
- The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returned to Earth in September, after successfully completing a seven-year mission to the Bennu asteroid. Remarkably, it still had a quarter of fuel left, prompting NASA to relaunch it for the rendezvous with Apophis.
- Renamed OSIRIS-APEX (Origin, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Apophis Explorer), the spacecraft is embarking on a $200 million mission to explore Apophis.
Close encounter and superficial analysis
- Apophis is classified as “S-type asteroidComposed of silicate and nickel-iron material, which distinguishes it from other asteroid types.
- As Apophis approaches Earth, Osiris-Apex will approach within 25 meters of its surface with the goal of extracting vital information.
- Scientists are particularly interested in understanding how the asteroid’s surface changes when it interacts with Earth’s gravity. This contact could trigger seismic events and alter the asteroid’s orbit and rotation.
Planetary Defense and Scientific Insights
- Apophis’s close proximity to Earth provides NASA with a unique opportunity to study planetary defense, a top priority for the organization.
- While most known potentially hazardous asteroids are of the “S-type”, a close approach of Apophis Allows scientists to delve deeper into planet formation processes.
- Tidal forces and the accumulation of debris on asteroids can provide insight into the evolution of celestial bodies from the early Solar System to fully formed planets.
Refusal to Confront: From Concerns to Certainties
- Discovery of Apophis in 2004 Concerns were initially raised about a possible collision with Earth, leading to it being classified as Level 4 on the Torino Scale.
- However, subsequent modeling in December 2004 ruled out the possibility of an impact. In June 2021, when Apophis passed 17 million kilometers from Earth, NASA definitively ruled out the possibility of any collision, removing it from the Earth close approaches list.
Post-passage study: 18 months of operation of OSIRIS-APEX
- After Apophis’ close encounter, Osiris-Apex will Continue working near the asteroid for 18 months.
- The purpose of this extended mission duration is to observe and analyze changes induced in Apophis due to its proximity to Earth.
- The extensive study conducted during this period promises to make important contributions to our understanding of celestial bodies and their interactions.
Important questions related to exam
Q1. What is the primary objective of NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX mission?
A) Explore Venus
B) study the asteroid Bennu
C) Examine the asteroid Apophis.
Q2. What is the classification of Apophis based on its structure?
Q3. What important information does NASA aim to extract when OSIRIS-Apex approaches the surface of Apophis?
A) magnetic field data
B) information about its rotation speed
c) Description of the changes occurring on the surface due to Earth’s gravity.
Q4. How long will OSIRIS-Apex operate near Apophis after its close encounter with Earth?
A) 6 months
B) 12 months
c) 18 months
Please leave your answers in the comments section.