OSIRIS-REx’s final asteroid observation run

(1 April 2021 – NASA Goddard) NASA’s mission is on the point of discovering the extent of the mess it made on asteroid ’s floor throughout final fall’s pattern assortment occasion.

On Apr. 7, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will get one final shut encounter with Bennu because it performs a remaining flyover to seize pictures of the asteroid’s floor. Whereas performing the flyover, the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a distance of about 2.Three miles (3.7 km) – the closest it’s been for the reason that Contact-and-Go Pattern Assortment occasion on Oct. 20, 2020.

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This artist’s idea exhibits the deliberate flight path of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft throughout its remaining flyby of asteroid Bennu, which is scheduled for April 7. (courtesy: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona)

The OSIRIS-REx workforce determined so as to add this final flyover after Bennu’s floor was considerably disturbed by the pattern assortment occasion. Throughout landing, the spacecraft’s sampling head sunk 1.6 toes (48.eight centimeters) into the asteroid’s floor and concurrently fired a pressurized cost of nitrogen fuel. The spacecraft’s thrusters additionally mobilized a considerable quantity of floor materials in the course of the back-away burn. As a result of Bennu’s gravity is so weak, these varied from the spacecraft had a dramatic impact on the pattern website – launching lots of the area’s rocks and plenty of mud within the course of. This remaining flyby of Bennu will present the mission workforce a chance to find out how the spacecraft’s contact with Bennu’s floor altered the pattern website and the area surrounding it.

The only flyby will mimic one of many statement sequences carried out in the course of the mission’s Detailed Survey section in 2019. OSIRIS-REx will picture Bennu for five.9 hours, which is simply over a full rotation interval of the asteroid. Inside this timeframe, the spacecraft’s PolyCam imager will get hold of high-resolution pictures of Bennu’s northern and southern hemispheres and its equatorial area. The workforce will then examine these new pictures with the earlier high-resolution imagery of the asteroid obtained throughout 2019.

A of the spacecraft’s different science devices may even gather in the course of the flyover, together with the MapCam imager, the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), the OSIRIS-REx Seen and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS), and the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA). Exercising these devices will give the workforce an opportunity to evaluate the present state of every science instrument onboard the spacecraft, as mud coated the devices in the course of the pattern assortment occasion. Understanding the well being of the devices can be a part of NASA’s analysis of doable prolonged mission alternatives after the pattern is delivered to Earth.

After the Bennu flyby, it’s going to take a of days for the information from the flyover to be downlinked to Earth. As soon as the information are downlinked, the workforce will examine the pictures to know how OSIRIS-REx disturbed the asteroid’s floor materials. At this level, the workforce may even be capable of consider the efficiency of the science devices.

The spacecraft will stay in asteroid Bennu’s neighborhood till Might 10, when the mission will enter its Return Cruise section and start its two-year journey again to Earth. Because it approaches Earth, the spacecraft will jettison the Pattern Return Capsule (SRC) that accommodates the rocks and mud collected from Bennu. The SRC will then journey via the Earth’s ambiance and land underneath parachutes on the Utah Take a look at and Coaching Vary on Sep. 24, 2023.

As soon as recovered, the capsule shall be transported to the curation facility on the company’s Johnson Area in Houston, the place the pattern shall be eliminated for distribution to laboratories worldwide, enabling scientists to the formation of our photo voltaic system and Earth as a liveable planet.

NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Heart in Greenbelt, Maryland, gives general mission administration, techniques engineering, and the protection and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the College of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the College of Arizona additionally the science workforce and the mission’s science statement planning and information processing. Area in Denver constructed the spacecraft and gives flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are liable for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Area Flight Heart in Huntsville, Alabama, for the company’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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