OSIRIS-APEX: An OSIRIS-REx Extended Mission to Asteroid ApophisOPEN ACCESS 

Daniella N. DellaGiustina, Michael C. Nolan, Anjani T. Polit, Michael C. Moreau, Dathon R. Golish, Amy A. Simon, Coralie D. Adam, Peter G. Antreasian, Ronald-Louis Ballouz, Olivier S. Barnouin et al.

The Planetary Science Journal, Volume 4, Number 10


“The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft mission characterized and collected a sample from asteroid (101955) Bennu. After the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule released to Earth’s surface in 2023 September, the spacecraft diverted into a new orbit that encounters asteroid (99942) Apophis in 2029, enabling a second mission with the same unique capabilities: OSIRIS–Apophis Explorer (APEX). On 2029 April 13, the 340 m diameter Apophis will draw within ∼32,000 km of Earth’s surface, less than 1/10 the lunar distance. Apophis will be the largest object to approach Earth this closely in recorded history. This rare planetary encounter will alter Apophis’s orbit, will subject it to tidal forces that change its spin state, and may seismically disturb its surface. APEX will distantly observe Apophis during the Earth encounter and capture its evolution in real time, revealing the consequences of an asteroid undergoing tidal disturbance by a major planet. Beginning in 2029 July, the spacecraft’s instrument suite will begin providing high-resolution data of this “stony” asteroid—advancing knowledge of these objects and their connection to meteorites. Near the mission’s end, APEX will use its thrusters to excavate regolith, a technique demonstrated at Bennu. Observations before, during, and after excavation will provide insight into the subsurface and material properties of stony asteroids. Furthermore, Apophis’s material and structure have critical implications for planetary defense.”