NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft collects vital quantity of asteroid

WASHINGTON: Two days after touching down on asteroid Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission staff acquired on Thursday, October 22, pictures that verify the spacecraft has collected greater than sufficient materials to satisfy certainly one of its primary mission necessities – buying a minimum of 2 ounces (60 grams) of the asteroid’s floor materials.
The spacecraft captured pictures of the pattern collector head because it moved by way of a number of totally different positions. In reviewing these pictures, the OSIRIS-REx staff seen each that the top gave the impression to be stuffed with asteroid particles, and that a few of these particles gave the impression to be escaping slowly from the pattern collector, referred to as the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They suspect bits of fabric are passing by way of small gaps the place a mylar flap – the collector’s “lid” – is barely wedged open by bigger rocks.
“Bennu continues to shock us with nice science and likewise throwing just a few curveballs,” stated Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s affiliate administrator for science on the company’s headquarters in Washington. “And though we might have to maneuver extra shortly to stow the pattern, it isn’t a nasty drawback to have. We are so excited to see what seems to be an considerable pattern that may encourage science for many years past this historic second.”
The staff believes it has collected a adequate pattern and is on a path to stow the pattern as shortly as attainable. They got here to this conclusion after evaluating pictures of the empty collector head with Oct. 22 pictures of the TAGSAM head after the pattern assortment occasion.
The pictures additionally present that any motion to the spacecraft and the TAGSAM instrument might result in additional pattern loss. To protect the remaining materials, the mission staff determined to forego the Sample Mass Measurement exercise initially scheduled for Saturday, October 24 and cancelled a braking burn scheduled for Friday to attenuate any acceleration to the spacecraft.
From right here, the OSIRIS-Rex staff will give attention to stowing the pattern within the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), the place any free materials shall be stored secure throughout the spacecraft’s journey again to Earth.
“We are working to maintain up with our personal success right here, and my job is to soundly return as giant a pattern of Bennu as attainable,” stated Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator on the University of Arizona in Tucson, who leads the science staff and the mission’s science statement planning and information processing. “The lack of mass is of concern to me, so I’m strongly encouraging the staff to stow this treasured pattern as shortly as attainable.”
The TAGSAM head carried out the sampling occasion in optimum circumstances. Newly out there analyses present that the collector’s head was flush with Bennu’s floor when it made contact and when the nitrogen gasoline bottle was fired to stir floor materials. It additionally penetrated a number of centimetres into the asteroid’s floor materials. All information thus far recommend that the collector’s head is holding rather more than 2 ounces of regolith.
OSIRIS-REx stays in good well being, and the mission staff is finalizing a timeline for pattern storage. An replace shall be supplied as soon as a call is made on the pattern storage timing and procedures.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, supplies total mission administration, programs engineering and the security and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver constructed the spacecraft and is offering flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace of Tempe, Arizona, are accountable 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 Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the company’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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