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OSIRIS-APEX: From Bennu to Apophis

On , after a 7-year-long journey through space, the OSIRIS-REx capsule landed with its precious sample of asteroid Bennu. Canada contributed the scanning lidar OLA to the mission, which provided unprecedented information on the asteroid's shape and surface features and helped select the best site for sample selection.

Reinvented as OSIRIS-APEX, the spacecraft will continue to explore the cosmos as part of a new mission to study asteroid Apophis.


The OSIRIS-APEX mission is designed to observe the asteroid Apophis, which will make a close approach to Earth in , bringing it within 32,000 kilometres of Earth's surface (about 1/10th of the distance to the Moon).

OSIRIS-APEX will perform a manoeuvre in which it will:

Mission objectives

  • Study changes to asteroid Apophis's surface, orbit and rotation resulting from Earth's gravitational pull
  • Analyze how objects such as Apophis (a "stony" asteroid) can change over time as they interact with Earth's gravity during multiple encounters
  • Map Apophis's surface and analyze its chemical composition
  • Collect data on Apophis to help better understand potentially hazardous asteroids (those whose orbits come within 7.4 million kilometres of Earth)

Canada's role

The Canadian instrument OLA (OSIRIS Laser Altimeter) played a crucial role in the success of OSIRIS-REx, generating around 3 billion individual measurements. OLA will be similarly important during the OSIRIS-APEX mission: it will collect precise measurements for 3D mapping of Apophis.

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