NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft, which is powered by Missouri-made batteries, recently set a new record for the closest distance a spacecraft has orbited to a body in the solar system. It accomplished the feat while taking a breathtaking photograph of the asteroid Bennu.
Joplin, Missouri-based EaglePicher Technologies designed the batteries that helped power the launch, and have been at work throughout the trip powering the spacecraft’s onboard electronics. The OSIRIS-Rex, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, launched on September 8, 2016 with a mission to rendezvous with the near-Earth asteroid, Bennu, study it and return an uncontaminated sample.
According to NASA, scientists think that asteroids like Bennu “may have been a source of water and organic molecules for the early Earth and other planetary bodies.” By analyzing an actual sample from Bennu, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of how planets formed as well as learn more about asteroids that could impact Earth.
This isn’t the only spacecraft to be powered by Missouri-made batteries. The energy storage created right here in Missouri powers several of NASA’s space program, including the InSight Lander and Curiosity missions on Mars.
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