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 were instead greeted by a rugged world littered with boulders – the size of cars, the size of houses, the size of football fields. Now, thanks to laser altimetry data and high-resolution imagery from OSIRIS-REx, we can take a tour of Bennu’s remarkable terrain. Unlock the secrets of asteroid Bennu.
Data Visualization by Kel Elkins
Produced and Narrated by Dan Gallagher
Additional Animation by Jonathan North and Adriana Manrique Gutierrez
A ‘behind the scenes’ view of the Tour of Asteroid Bennu. Producer Dan Gallagher and data visualizer Kel Elkins discuss the making of the video, and how data-driven animation is enabling viewers to explore new worlds like Bennu.