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OSIRIS-REx Mission Breaks Another Orbit Record

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On Jun. 12, 2019, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft went into orbit round asteroid Bennu for a second time — breaking its personal document for the closest orbit of a planetary physique by any spacecraft. Picture Credit score: College of Arizona

June 15, 2019 – On June 12, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft carried out one other vital navigation maneuver—breaking its personal document for the closest orbit of a planetary physique by a spacecraft.

The maneuver started the mission’s new section, referred to as Orbital B, and positioned the spacecraft in an orbit 680 meters (2,231 ft) above the floor of asteroid Bennu. The earlier document—additionally set by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft—was roughly 1.three kilometers (zero.eight miles) above the floor.

Upon arrival at Bennu, the workforce noticed particles ejecting into house from the asteroid’s floor. To raised perceive why that is occurring, the primary two weeks of Orbital B will probably be dedicated to observing these occasions by taking frequent pictures of the asteroid’s horizon. For the remaining 5 weeks, the spacecraft will map all the asteroid utilizing most of its onboard science devices: the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) will produce a full terrain map; PolyCam will kind a high-resolution, international picture mosaic; and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and the REgolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) will produce international maps in the infrared and X-ray bands. All of those measurements are important for selecting the right pattern assortment web site on Bennu’s floor.

OSIRIS-REx will stay in Orbital B till the second week of August, when it’ll transition to the marginally greater Orbital C for extra particle observations. Throughout Orbital C, the spacecraft will probably be roughly 1.three kilometers (zero.eight miles) above the asteroid’s floor.

The OSIRIS-REx workforce can even use information collected from Orbital B section
to evaluate the protection and sample-ability (the probability pattern
will be collected) of every potential pattern assortment web site. The workforce
will then select 4 doable pattern websites to be completely evaluated
this fall throughout the Reconnaissance section of the mission. Knowledge from the
Reconnaissance section will probably be used to guage the candidate websites for
additional down-selection, in addition to present the closeup imaging required
to map the options and landmarks needed for the spacecraft’s
autonomous navigation to the asteroid’s floor.

A number of security necessities should be thought of earlier than pattern
assortment. As an example, any candidate web site should be clear sufficient of
giant rocks or boulders in order that the spacecraft can navigate to the
floor with out encountering harmful terrain. Moreover, to maintain
OSIRIS-REx upright throughout pattern assortment, the chosen web site can’t be
tilted an excessive amount of in comparison with the sampling arm. Bennu’s unexpectedly rocky
floor has made it tougher than initially predicted to
establish websites that meet each of those security necessities. In response,
the workforce is evaluating each spacecraft and navigation efficiency
capabilities, which can doubtless allow larger precision steerage to
goal extra confined websites.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is on a seven-year journey to check the
asteroid Bennu and return a pattern from its floor to Earth. This
pattern of a primitive asteroid will assist scientists perceive the
formation of the Photo voltaic System over four.5 billion years in the past. Pattern
assortment is scheduled for summer time of 2020, and the spacecraft will
ship the pattern to Earth in September 2023.

NASA Goddard supplies general mission administration, techniques
engineering, and security and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante
Lauretta of the College of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal
investigator, and the College of Arizona leads the science workforce and
the mission’s science remark planning and information processing. Lockheed
Martin Area in Denver constructed the spacecraft and is offering flight
operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are chargeable 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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