The operational environment and rotational acceleration of asteroid (101955) Bennu from OSIRIS-REx observations

the OSIRIS-REx Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

During its approach to asteroid (101955) Bennu, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft surveyed Bennu’s immediate environment, photometric properties, and rotation state. Discovery of a dusty environment, a natural satellite, or unexpected asteroid characteristics would have had consequences for the mission’s safety and observation strategy. Here we show that spacecraft observations during this period were highly sensitive to satellites (sub-meter scale) but reveal none, although later navigational images indicate that further investigation is needed. We constrain average dust production in September 2018 from Bennu’s surface to an upper limit of 150 g s–1 averaged over 34 min. Bennu’s disk-integrated photometric phase function validates measurements from the pre-encounter astronomical campaign. We demonstrate that Bennu’s rotation rate is accelerating continuously at 3.63 ± 0.52 × 10–6 degrees day–2, likely due to the Yarkovsky–O’Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack (YORP) effect, with evolutionary implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1291
JournalNature communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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