Washington - US space scientists selected a site on the distant asteroid Bennu for the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft to swoop down, grab a sample from the orb’s boulder-strewn surface and return to earth, NASA said in a press release on Thursday.
"The area safe enough for the spacecraft to touch is much smaller – approximately 52 feet (16 meters) in diameter, resulting in a site that is only about one-tenth the size of what was originally envisioned," the release said.
NASA explained the site was selected after the spacecraft spent a year stalking and scoping the asteroid.
Additional reconnaissance flights will be needed for the "touch-and-go" sample collection attempt, the release said.
The spacecraft will begin its journey back to earth in 2021 and is scheduled to return to Earth in September 2023, the release added.