NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission modeled the Bennu asteroid for 3D printing


At the end of 2018, the NASA spaceship OSIRIS-REx, went into orbit around Bennu, an asteroid located just 70 million miles from Earth, to explore it. Thanks to this, the scientists could create a model of the asteroid, which they have posted on their web-site so that anyone can replicate it at home with a 3D printer.

Last week, OSIRIS-REx tweeted: “Have access to a 3D printer? Print your very own shape model of asteroid Bennu! Files for both the 2013 ground-based radar model and the updated shape model released in December are available to download".





Bennu is quite a small asteroid about 70 million miles (or 110 million kilometers) away from Earth. Despite its (relative) closeness, it won’t pose a threat until at least the year 2175. In September 2016, NASA sent the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (or OSIRIS-REx for short) to learn more about Bennu and its trajectory.

As the spacecraft approached Bennu, it could finally collect more data using its Camera Suit (OCAMS). This data proved helpful in terms of developing a new preliminary model of the asteroid form, which can now be rendered in 3D. However, many Twitter users have pointed out that the printing results might be frustrating since they are dependent on the quality of 3D printer.

The data obtained during the OSIRIS-Rex’s approach to Bennu shows that the first model made in 2013 "accurately predicted" the asteroid’s overall shape, diameter, rotation speed and inclination. Nevertheless, the new model for 3D printing reveals more qualities of the asteroid,
which is only six meters in diameter. OSIRIS-REx will continue to research Bennu from the side, looking for a landing site where it can
collect a sample of the asteroid before returning to Earth in 2023.