NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The latest batch of images shows Bennu in staggering new detail from when OSIRIS-REx was just one mile above the surface.

Since OSIRIS-REx reached orbit around asteroid Bennu at the beginning of this year, its snapshots have brought us closer and closer to the nearby asteroid. At just 500 meters (1,600 feet) across, Bennu is the smallest object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft snapped these incredibly detailed asteroid photos from just 1,6 kilometer (1 mile) above Bennu. The newly released pictures taken on January 17, show Asteroid Bennu from its south pole. The detailed views come nearly three years after NASA’s asteroid-bound mission blasted off from Earth and into space. NASA astronauts are now charting Asteroid Bennu’s surface and learning as much as they can about the mysterious asteroid.

OSIRIS-REx will spend roughly the next year studying the asteroid’s surface and taking various readings which it will relay back to Earth. Eventually, the spacecraft will performed a delicate sample gathering maneuver and then fly back to Earth to deliver material to eager scientists.