Having already put humans on the moon, it looks like the United States is destined to be responsible for our next major planetary discovery. With what NASA scientists are calling “the first-ever direct Earth-to-sun encounter,” a highly anticipated joint spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, successfully entered orbit around a small asteroid in August 2018 – and now it’s been confirmed that it made a deep impact with the sun.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve entered the era of space-native supermodels (and platoons), it does show that the historic rendezvous (which lasted for nine months) was a success. OSIRIS-REx reached the asteroid Bennu and began their journey on 3,992 miles above the surface of the Earth, coming within 17,500 miles of the moon in August and will make a round-trip to the asteroid by 2023.
At first, it looked like the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was going to fail at its objective as well. But finally, after five close passes, the spacecraft made contact with the sun in mid-July, for the first time in its history. As of this writing, NASA has officially “touched” the sun and started “ingesting” its energy.
Basically, their motion is slowing down.