Detailed Global Views of Asteroid Bennu

When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu in December 2018, its close-up images confirmed what mission planners had predicted nearly two decades before: Bennu is made of loose material weakly clumped together by gravity, and shaped like a spinning top. This major validation, however, was accompanied by a major surprise. Scientists had expected Bennu’s surface to consist of fine-grained material like a sandy beach, but instead OSIRIS-REx was greeted by a rugged world littered with boulders – the size of cars, the size of houses, the size of football fields.

The 3D animations on this page were created using laser altimetry data and imagery of Bennu taken by OSIRIS-REx.

The Bennu albedo map was generated using images acquired by PolyCam during Baseball Diamond Flyby 1. The images were photometrically normalized to represent the innate albedo of Bennu’s surface. Details for the creation of the map can be found in the forthcoming publication “A High-Resolution Normal Albedo Map of Asteroid (101955) Bennu” by Golish et al. Icarus (2020).

Polar regions that were not imaged in Flyby 1 are visualized using the Bennu global basemap, created from PolyCam images acquired during Baseball Diamond Flybys 3 and 4. Details for the creation of the basemap can be found in “A high-resolution global Basemap of (101955) Bennu” by Bennett et al. Icarus (2020).

For more information, see https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4857/

Date: September 21, 2020