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In an unprecedented extension of its celestial duties, the spacecraft that delivered asteroid samples from Bennu, OSIRIS-REx, has embarked on a new mission, and NASA has renamed it as OSIRIS-APEX.

  • OSIRIS-APEX is a mission to study the physical changes to asteroid Apophis that will result from its rare close encounter with Earth in April 2029.
  • That year, Apophis’ orbit will bring it within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) of Earth’s surface — closer to Earth than our highest-altitude satellites.
  • The mission aims to observe the physical changes induced by Earth’s gravitational pull during Apophis’ flyby.
  • These changes could include alterations in the asteroid’s orbit, rotation speed, and surface features such as quakes or landslides.
  • The OSIRIS-APEX spacecraft will dip toward the surface of Apophis.