Saturday, 4 May 2013

Asteroid target for NASA's OSIRIS-REx now named Bennu after Egyptian god

Asteroid target for NASA's OSIRIS-REx now named Bennu after Egyptian god, A May 3, 2013 article in Space Daily notes that nine year old Michael Toler Puzio from North Carolina has won a contest to name the asteroid that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx will be headed toward in a sample return mission. The asteroid will now be named Bennu, after an Egyptian god usually depicted as a gray heron. “The dual nature of asteroids, bringers of life's molecules and sometime bringers of destruction, inspired the name.”

Previously the asteroid had the designation of (101955) 1999 RQ36. 8,000 students from 25 countries participated in the contest sponsored by the International Astronomical Union.

OSIRIS-REx is due to be launched in 2016. It will at asteroid Bennu in 2018, take a sample in 2019, and then return to Earth in 2023.

Bennu, besides being the name of an Egyptian god, has an obscure pop culture reference. It was the name of an alien trapped on Earth on a TV show called “The Phoenix” that ran for a handful of episodes in the early 1980s. Judson Scott starred as the alien and Richard Lynch as the government agent who pursued him.

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