After nearly two years of travel, the NASA asteroid spacecraft, Originals, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), caught the first glimpse of the asteroid Bennu last week and started
On August 17, the spacecraft's PolyCam camera launched the mission's asteroid campaign and received the image from a distance of 2.2 million kilometers
OSIRIS-REx is NASA's first mission to launch a near-Earth asteroid, survey the surface, and collect one Sample and bring it back to earth safely. The spacecraft has covered around 1.1 billion miles (1.8 billion kilometers) since its launch on September 8, 2016, and is expected to arrive in Bennu on December 3.
"Now that OSIRIS-REx is close enough to observe Bennu, the mission team will spend the next few months learning as much as possible about Bennu's size, shape, surface features, and environment before the spacecraft reaches the asteroid "said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS REx project leader at the University of Arizona, Tucson. "Having planned so long for this moment, I can not wait to see what Bennu tells us."
As OSIRIS-REx approaches the asteroid, the spacecraft will use its scientific tools to gather information about Bennu and prepare for arrival. The spacecraft's scientific payload includes the OCAMS camera suite (PolyCam, MapCam, and SamCam), the OTES thermal spectrometer, the OVIRS visible light and infrared spectrometer, the OLA laser altimeter, and the REXIS X-ray spectrometer
phase, OSIRIS-REx will:
+ regularly observe the area around the asteroid to search for dust clouds and natural satellites, and study Bennu's light and spectral properties;
+ Perform a series of four asteroid approach maneuvers, starting on October 1
+ discard the protective cover of the spacecraft's sampling arm in mid-October and later extend and image the arm in flight for the first time; and
+ use OCAMS to uncover the asteroid's overall shape in late October and to discover Bennu's surface features in mid-November.
Upon arrival in Bennu, the spaceship will spend the first month passing by at Bennu's North Pole, equator and South Pole, at distances between 19 and 7 km from the asteroid.
These maneuvers allow the first direct measurement of Bennu's mass as well as close-up observations of the surface. These lines will also give the mission's navigation team the experience of navigating around the asteroid.
"Bennu's low gravity presents a unique challenge to the mission," said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Bennu, with a diameter of about 0.3 miles [500 meters]will be the smallest object ever orbited by a spaceship."
The spacecraft will extensively investigate the asteroid before the response team identifies two possible sample locations. A thorough investigation of these locations will allow the team to select one for sampling in early July 2020. After sampling, the spacecraft will return to Earth before ejecting the Sample Return Capsule for the Utah Desert Landing in September 2023.
OSIRIS-REx at NASA
Asteroid and Comets Mission News, Science and Technology
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Why Asteroid Bennu? 10 Reasons
Washington DC (SPX) 22 August 2018
After two years and billions of kilometers from Earth, the OSIRIS-REx probe is only a few months away from its destination: the fascinating asteroid Bennu. In December, OSIRIS-REx will launch a nearly two year study of these rocks, mapping their terrain and finding a safe and fertile site for sampling.
The spacecraft will briefly touch the surface of Bennu in July 2020 by at least 60 grams (equivalent to about 30 sugar packets) … read more