NASA has released a stunning close-up of an asteroid from one of its spacecraft and sets a new record for the nearest orbit in a planetary body.
The picture was taken June 13 shortly after OSIRIS-REx began a new phase of its mission, known as Orbital B.
Maneuver saw the handbook only 680 meters above the surface of the asteroid Bennu as it traveled through space more than 90 million miles from Earth.
"From the spacecraft's vantage point in orbit, half of Bennu is sunlit and half are in shade," NASA wrote in a statement.
"Bennus largest quarry can also be seen from the southern hemisphere."
In such a close range, details as small as half a meter can be seen in the middle of the image.
Bennu is one of the smallest items ever visited by spacecraft, NASA said.
For the remainder of its mission, the spacecraft will map the entire asteroid using its built-in instruments.
All measurements will be used to select the best sample collection site on the Bennus surface, NASA said.
"This test of a primitive asteroid will help scientists understand the formation of the solar system over 4.5 billion years ago," NASA wrote.
Sample collection is scheduled for the summer of 2020, and the spacecraft will deliver the sample to the ground in September 2023.
OSIRIS-REx, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, was launched in 201
This screenshot from the nearest orbit, a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body.
This navigation picture of asteroid Bennu was taken shortly after orbital deployment on June 13 from a distance of 0.6 km (690 m).
Image Details: https://t.co/8aFYUKK4cW pic.twitter.com/jraAXwRAw1
– NASA's OSIRIS REX (@OSIRISREx)
June 17, 2019
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