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Watch: How NASA used the earth’s gravity to propel a spacecraft to a nearby asteroid

The use of the ‘slingshot effect’ added a kick of 8,500 miles per hour to the spacecraft without the use of any fuel.


In 2016, NASA launched a spacecraft named Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx, and sent it on its way to a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu. And on September 22, the spacecraft, roughly the size of an SUV, slingshot around the Earth’s South Pole, altering its trajectory and so as to reach Bennu in the autumn of 2018.

The episode of NASA’s video podcast series ScienceCasts titled Riding the Slingshot to Bennu explains exactly how crucial the “slingshot” was for the mission to be successful. Describing gravity as “most efficient and powerful force of all”, the narrator explains how the earth-gravity assist or the slingshot effect was used to propel the spacecraft towards its destination.

Scientists hope that the mission will bring back a couple of ounces of the asteroid, so that they “can explore how planets formed and life began.” The asteroid is known to regularly cross the Earth’s orbit, with a 1-in-2,700 chance that it could crash to the surface of our planet between 2175 and 2196.

This is not NASA’s first rodeo. In 1974, they employed the slingshot effect when they used the gravity of Venus to help spacecraft Marin 10 to reach Mercury. The earth’s gravity assist (EGA) will help OSIRIS-REx reach Bennu even though their paths are not the same: Bennu’s orbit is tilted by about six degrees compared to Earth’s. The EGA thus serves two purposes: increasing its speed as well as altering its trajectory. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023.

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Why should inclusion matter to companies?

It's not just about goodwill - inclusivity is a good business decision.

To reach a 50-50 workplace scenario, policies on diversity need to be paired with a culture of inclusiveness. While diversity brings equal representation in meetings, board rooms, promotions and recruitment, inclusivity helps give voice to the people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. Inclusion at workplace can be seen in an environment that values diverse opinions, encourages collaboration and invites people to share their ideas and perspectives. As Verna Myers, a renowned diversity advocate, puts it “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Creating a sense of belonging for everyone is essential for a company’s success. Let’s look at some of the real benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:

Better decision making

A whitepaper by Cloverpop, a decision making tool, established a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance. The research discovered that teams that followed an inclusive decision-making process made decisions 2X faster with half the meetings and delivered 60% better results. As per Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, this report highlights how diversity and inclusion are practical tools to improve decision making in companies. According to her, changing the composition of decision making teams to include different perspectives can help individuals overcome biases that affect their decisions.

Higher job satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is connected to a workplace environment that values individual ideas and creates a sense of belonging for everyone. A research by Accenture identified 40 factors that influence advancement in the workplace. An empowering work environment where employees have the freedom to be creative, innovative and themselves at work, was identified as a key driver in improving employee advancement to senior levels.


A research by stated the in India, 62% of innovation is driven by employee perceptions of inclusion. The study included responses from 1,500 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States and showed that employees who feel included are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, suggest new and innovative ways of getting work done.

Competitive Advantage

Shirley Engelmeier, author of ‘Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage’, in her interview with Forbes, talks about the new global business normal. She points out that the rapidly changing customer base with different tastes and preferences need to feel represented by brands. An inclusive environment will future-proof the organisation to cater to the new global consumer language and give it a competitive edge.

An inclusive workplace ensures that no individual is disregarded because of their gender, race, disability, age or other social and cultural factors. Accenture has been a leading voice in advocating equal workplace. Having won several accolades including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate equality index, Accenture has demonstrated inclusive and diverse practices not only within its organisation but also in business relationships through their Supplier Inclusion and Diversity program.

In a video titled ‘She rises’, Accenture captures the importance of implementing diverse policies and creating an inclusive workplace culture.


To know more about inclusion and diversity, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Accenture and not by the Scroll editorial team.