The asteroid Bennu was visited by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft over the course of two years. OSIRIS-REx needed some tricky navigation and precise maneuvers to get it done.

The experts at NASA created a visualization of the path the spaceship took. A short film called "A Web Around Asteroid Bennu" shows the complexity of the mission and is being shown at a computer graphics conference.

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The trajectory data began to be worked on in 2015. It looks like a rat's nest when you first see it. It was great to see these maneuvers in 3D.

The flight path around Bennu is shown in a four-minute video.

Screenshot from the visualization of OSIRIS-REx’s orbital path.

The team did things that have never been done before in planetary exploration. In order to get the spaceship exactly where it needed to be, we flew it closer to the object than any other spaceship has ever flown before.

Taking their data visualization to the next level, Elkins and colleagues plan to release a 360- degree version of "A Web Around Asteroid Bennu" that wraps the video around the viewer, for an interactive experience on virtual reality headsets, mobile devices, and online.

It is amazing to see the trajectory in front of you in the original format, but there is something about putting the viewer in the middle of it. You are in space and OSIRIS-REx is overhead. This additional view is going to be published.

This illustration shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft departing asteroid Bennu to begin its two-year journey back to Earth. Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The sample from OSIRIS-REx will be dropped off in the Utah desert in September of 2020. Once the sample is retrieved, the spacecraft has been given a new mission, and it will be heading to one of the most dangerous asteroids in the world. The mission is going to be called OSIRIS-APEX.

The source is NASA.