Asteroid Bennu Visualisations
by Peter Morse · Published · Updated
The OSIRIS_REx spacecraft has arrived at Asteroid Bennu, on an exciting sample-return mission. Some of the earliest publicly-available photographs are of sufficient resolution to enable space-enthusiasts like me to have a crack at creating a photogrammetric model – so here it is. It’s probably not terribly accurate given the source resolution, but certainly enough to give an initial sense of the object and its main features – plus you can look at it in 3D in VR on your phone (using an appropriate VR headset).
Some amazing Bennu facts:
Equatorial Diameter: ~500 m
Polar Diameter: ~510 m
Average Speed: 63,000 mph (~101,000 kph)
Rotation Period: 4.3 hrs
Orbital Period: 1.2 yrs
Orbital Inclination: 6 degrees
Earth Approach: Bennu comes close to Earth every 6 yrs
Bennu is around 4.5 billion years old and probably broke off a larger parent body around 700 million to 2 billion years ago. It weighs around 77.6 million metric tons.
The source data is here. I used the full rotation images from a distance of 50 miles (80.5 kilometres). As better imagery becomes available I’ll update the model so it shows more detail.
A good overview of some of the science can be read here: https://eos.org/articles/all-about-bennu-a-rubble-pile-with-a-lot-of-surprises
I had a bit of fun creating an imaginary trip towards and around Bennu, complete with space titles and dramatic space music!