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“Rotating asteroids have a tough time sticking to their orbits. Their surfaces heat up during the day and cool down at night, giving off radiation that can act as a sort of mini-thruster. This force, called the Yarkovsky effect, can cause rotating asteroids to drift widely over time, making it hard for scientists to predict their long-term risk to Earth. To learn more about the Yarkovsky effect, NASA is sending a spacecraft called OSIRIS-REx to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will observe how Bennu’s shape, brightness, and surface features influence the strength of the Yarkovsky effect, helping scientists to better predict Bennu’s orbit over time and pin down its long-term risk.

About NASA Goddard

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study Earth, the sun, our solar system and the universe. Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery. Watch for the latest in NASA’s research into planetary science, astrophysics, Earth observing, and solar science.”

Topic Keywords

asteroid, Bennu, Yarkovsky Effect, OSIRIS-REx (Space Mission), Yarkovsky effect, OSIRIS-REx, asteroid mission, asteroid Bennu, asteroids, asteroid rotation, …

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