Spaceship chasing an asteroid slingshots past Earth

Updated 2:59 PM EDT, Fri September 22, 2017
Now playing
01:22
NASA is hoping to catch an asteroid
NASA releases first ever ISS video shot at 8K
NASA releases first ever ISS video shot at 8K
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
01:16
NASA shoots first 8K video of Earth
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
00:59
Why did NASA launch 450,000 gallons of water?
In this photo released by NASA, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at NASA
In this photo released by NASA, the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Va. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)
PHOTO: Joel Kowsky/NASA/AP
Now playing
00:34
Watch NASA launch cargo ship into space
SANTA BARBARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (R) separates from the space craft (L) behind the rocket trail after launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the SAOCOM 1A and ITASAT 1 satellites, as seen on October 7, 2018 near Santa Barbara, California. After launching the satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket successfully returned to land on solid ground near the launch site rather than at sea. The satellites will become part of a six-satellite constellation that will work in tandem with an Italian constellation known as COSMO-SkyMed.    (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (R) separates from the space craft (L) behind the rocket trail after launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the SAOCOM 1A and ITASAT 1 satellites, as seen on October 7, 2018 near Santa Barbara, California. After launching the satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket successfully returned to land on solid ground near the launch site rather than at sea. The satellites will become part of a six-satellite constellation that will work in tandem with an Italian constellation known as COSMO-SkyMed. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
PHOTO: David McNew/Getty Images
Now playing
01:09
SpaceX rocket launch lights up evening sky
JAXA astroid ryugu images
JAXA astroid ryugu images
PHOTO: Twitter / @haya2e_jaxa
Now playing
00:33
Robot sends new images from asteroid's surface
Massive structure on Saturn
Massive structure on Saturn
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
01:05
New vortex discovered above Saturn
The SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket marks another milestone for Kennedy Space Center
The SpaceX launch of a Falcon 9 rocket marks another milestone for Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39-A.
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
02:00
60 years of NASA's history in 120 seconds
PHOTO: NASA TV
Now playing
01:39
Watch NASA launch probe that will explore sun
nasa lagoon nebula new images lon orig_00000000.jpg
nasa lagoon nebula new images lon orig_00000000.jpg
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
01:19
Stunning virtual tour of the Lagoon Nebula
Artist
Artist's concept of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft approaching the sun. In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Solar Probe Plus to touch the sun.
PHOTO: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/NASA
Now playing
00:59
Listen: The sun is not silent
PHOTO: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/David Ladd
Now playing
01:26
Breathtaking virtual tour of the Moon in 4K
This composite image, derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA
This composite image, derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, shows the central cyclone at the planet's north pole and the eight cyclones that encircle it.
PHOTO: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM
Now playing
01:02
NASA mission discovers Jupiter's inner secrets
PHOTO: N.R.Fuller, National Science Foundation
Now playing
00:46
'Fingerprint' of earliest light in universe detected
Now playing
00:46
'Super blue blood moon' lights up the skies
what is a black moon orig jpm_00000000.jpg
what is a black moon orig jpm_00000000.jpg
PHOTO: NASA
Now playing
01:04
What's in a moon's name?

Story highlights

OSIRIS-REx swings by Earth

Spaceship on its way to sample an asteroid

(CNN) —  

A spaceship sucessfully zipped by Earth on Friday and used our planet’s gravity to help it pick up speed on its way to explore an asteroid.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx flew about 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above Antarctica at 12:52 p.m. ET.

The maneuver, called an Earth gravity assist, pointed the spacecraft in the right direction to match Asteroid Bennu’s path and speed, NASA said in a statement.

As a result of the flyby, NASA said the velocity change to the spacecraft was 8,451 miles per hour (3.778 kilometers per second).

“The Earth gravity assist is a clever way to move the spacecraft onto Bennu’s orbital plane using Earth’s own gravity instead of expending fuel,” the mission’s principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, said earlier in a statement.

While OSIRIS-REx was making its flyby, mission scientists at the University of Arizona tested its instruments and used the spacecraft’s camera to take pictures of the Earth and moon.

It won’t be the last we see of this spacecraft. It will be back in 2023 – and it will come bearing gifts. NASA launched OSIRIS-REx from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in September 2016 to chase down Bennu, a dark asteroid that could one day threaten Earth.

The probe is scheduled to arrive at Bennu in August 2018 and will survey the asteroid for several months. Then, in July 2020, it will use its robot arm to blast the asteroid with nitrogen, causing it to kick up rocks and dust. It will try to snag a sample of the dust to bring back to Earth in 2023.

It’s not too late to wave

If you missed the flyby, don’t worry, we should get some pictures soon.

NASA encouraged amateur astronomers with specialized gear to photograph OSIRIS-REx as it passed by and to share their photos with the space agency.

“The opportunity to capture images of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft as it approaches Earth provides a unique challenge for observers to hone their skills during this historic flyby,” Lauretta said.

And it’s not too late to wave goodbye to OSIRIS-REx. The mission team is asking the public to celebrate the Earth gravity assist by joining in the “Wave to OSIRIS-REx” social media campaign.

No matter where you are on Earth, take a selfie (or a group photo) waving to OSIRIS-REx. Share your photos at hashtag #HelloOSIRISREx.

On Tuesday, the OSIRIS-REx team will let us know how everything worked out with the flyby. They’ll discuss the results and release images taken by the spacecraft’s cameras.