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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.


  • It 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 kilometers) 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.
  • Additionally, the OSIRIS-APEX spacecraft will dip toward the surface of Apophis.

Key facts about Apophis

  • It was discovered on June 19, 2004.
  • It is a stony "S-type" asteroid made of silicate (or rocky) material and a mixture of metallic nickel and iron ­
  • It is a remnant from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
  • It originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • Over millions of years, its orbit was changed primarily by the gravitational influence of large planets like Jupiter so that it now orbits the Sun closer to Earth.
  • As a result, Apophis is classified as a near-Earth asteroid, as opposed to a main-belt asteroid.

Q1) What Is an Asteroid?

It is any of a host of small bodies, about 1,000 km (600 miles) or less in diameter, that orbit the Sun primarily between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in a nearly flat ring called the asteroid belt. It is because of their small size and large numbers relative to the major planets that asteroids are also called minor planets. 

Source: Nasa renames mission going to asteroid Apophis after returning rocks from Bennu