Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2021 October 23

3D Bennu

Image Credit: NASAGSFCU. Arizona – Stereo Image Copyright: Patrick Vantuyne

Explanation: Put on your red/blue glasses and float next to asteroid 101955 Bennu. Shaped like a spinning toy top with boulders littering its rough surface, the tiny Solar System world is about one Empire State Building (less than 500 meters) across. Frames used to construct this 3D anaglyph were taken by PolyCam on the OSIRIS_REx spacecraft on December 3, 2018 from a distance of about 80 kilometers. With a sample from the asteroid’s rocky surface on board, OSIRIS_REx departed Bennu’s vicinity this May and is now enroute to planet Earth. The robotic spacecraft is scheduled to return the sample to Earth in September 2023.