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Watch a bus-sized asteroid safely zoom past Earth within the moon's orbit

Watch a bus-sized asteroid safely zoom past Earth within the moon's orbit

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A NASA mission to return samples from one near Earth asteroid will get an extended mission to visit a second asteroid under a plan approved by the agency April 25.

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The main spacecraft, after ejecting the sample return container that will land in the Utah desert, will fly by Earth on a trajectory that will bring it to Apophis in 2029

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, shortly after that asteroid passes just 32,000 kilometers from the Earth.

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The spacecraft will spend 18 months in the vicinity of Apophis, studying the 350-meter asteroid and coming close enough to use its thrusters to brush away surface rocks and expose subsurface materials.

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Apophis has long been an asteroid of interest to planetary scientists because of its close approaches to Earth in 2029 and 2036 that, for a time after its discovery, raised concerns about an impact.

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While scientists have ruled out an impact, the close approach offered the prospect of spacecraft missions to study the asteroid, something the OSIRIS-REx mission team had been discussing since 2020.

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