On April 7, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will give asteroid Bennu one final look earlier than saying farewell. Earlier than departing for Earth on Could 10, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will carry out a last flyby of Bennu—capturing its final photographs of pattern assortment website Nightingale to search for transformations on Bennu’s floor after the Oct. 20, 2020, pattern assortment occasion.
The OSIRIS-REx mission group lately accomplished an in depth security evaluation of a trajectory to watch sample website Nightingale from a distance of roughly 2.Four miles (3.eight kilometers). The spacecraft’s flight path is designed to maintain OSIRIS-REx a safe distance from Bennu, whereas guaranteeing the science devices can acquire exact observations. The one flyby will mimic one of many commentary sequences carried out through the mission’s Detailed Survey part in 2019. OSIRIS-REx will picture Bennu for a full 4.3-hour rotation to acquire high-resolution photographs of the asteroid’s northern and southern hemispheres and its equatorial area. The group will then examine these new photographs with the earlier high-resolution imagery of Bennu obtained throughout 2019.
This last flyby of Bennu was not a part of the unique mission schedule, however the commentary run will present the group a possibility to learn the way the spacecraft’s contact with Bennu’s floor altered the pattern website. Bennu’s floor was significantly disturbed after the Contact-and-Go (TAG) pattern assortment occasion, with the collector head sinking 1.6 ft (48.eight centimeters) into the asteroid’s floor whereas firing a pressurized cost of nitrogen fuel. The spacecraft’s thrusters additionally mobilized a considerable quantity of floor materials through the back-away burn.
Throughout this new mission part, referred to as the Publish-TAG Commentary (PTO) part, the spacecraft will carry out 5 separate navigation maneuvers in an effort to return to the asteroid and place itself for the flyby. OSIRIS-REx executed the primary maneuver on Jan. 14, which acted as a braking burn and put the spacecraft on a trajectory to rendezvous with the asteroid one final time. Since October’s pattern assortment occasion, the spacecraft has been slowly drifting away from the asteroid, and ended up roughly 1,635 miles (2,200 km) from Bennu. After the braking burn, the spacecraft is now slowly approaching the asteroid and can carry out a second strategy maneuver on Mar. 6, when it’s roughly 155 miles (250 km) from Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will then execute three subsequent maneuvers, that are required to put the spacecraft on a exact trajectory for the ultimate flyby on Apr. 7.
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to depart Bennu on Could 10 and start its two-year journey again to Earth. The spacecraft will ship the samples of Bennu to the Utah Check and Coaching Vary on Sep. 24, 2023.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to fly a farewell tour of Bennu (2021, February 9)
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