News

NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects significant amount of asteroid

NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects significant amount of asteroid
Technology
Captured by the spacecraft s SamCam camera on Oct. 22, 2020, this image shows that the sampler head on NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is full of rocks and dust collected from the surface of the asteroid Bennu.

Credit: NASA

Captured by the spacecraft s SamCam camera on Oct. 22, 2020, this image shows that the sampler head on NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is full of rocks and dust collected from the surface of the asteroid Bennu.

Credit: NASA

Close

Two days after touching down on asteroid Bennu, NASA s OSIRIS-REx mission team received on Thursday, Oct. 22, images that confirm the spacecraft has collected more than enough material to meet one of its main mission requirements -- acquiring at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of the asteroid s surface material.

advertisement

The spacecraft captured images of the sample collector head as it moved through several different positions. In reviewing these images, the OSIRIS-REx team noticed both that the head appeared to be full of asteroid particles, and that some of these particles appeared to be escaping slowly from the sample collector, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They suspect bits of material are passing through small gaps where a mylar flap -- the collector s "lid" -- is slightly wedged open by larger rocks.

"Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and also throwing a few curveballs," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA s associate administrator for science at the agency s headquarters in Washington. "And although we may have to move more quickly to stow the sample, it s not a bad problem to have. We are so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historic moment."

The team believes it has collected a sufficient sample and is on a path to stow the sample as quickly as possible. They came to this conclusion after comparing images of the empty collector head with Oct. 22 images of the TAGSAM head after the sample collection event.

The images also show that any movement to the spacecraft and the TAGSAM instrument may lead to further sample loss. To preserve the remaining material, the mission team decided to forego the Sample Mass Measurement activity originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, and canceled a braking burn scheduled for Friday to minimize any acceleration to the spacecraft.

From here, the OSIRIS-Rex team will focus on stowing the sample in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), where any loose material will be kept safe during the spacecraft s journey back to Earth.

"We are working to keep up with our own success here, and my job is to safely return as large a sample of Bennu as possible," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who leads the science team and the mission s science observation planning and data processing. "The loss of mass is of concern to me, so I m strongly encouraging the team to stow this precious sample as quickly as possible."

The TAGSAM head performed the sampling event in optimal conditions. Newly available analyses show that the collector head was flush with Bennu s surface when it made contact and when the nitrogen gas bottle was fired to stir surface material. It also penetrated several centimeters into the asteroid s surface material. All data so far suggest that the collector head is holding much more than 2 ounces of regolith.

OSIRIS-REx remains in good health, and the mission team is finalizing a timeline for sample storage. An update will be provided once a decision is made on the sample storage timing and procedures.

NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace of Tempe, Arizona, are responsible 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 agency s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information, see:

Materials provided by NASA . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

NASA. "NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects significant amount of asteroid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2020. .

NASA. "NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects significant amount of asteroid." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201023214459.htm (accessed October 26, 2020).

advertisement

1

Oct. 8, 2020 — As the days count down to NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft s Touch-And-Go asteroid sample collection attempt, scientists have determined what the spacecraft can expect to return from the near-Earth ...

June 1, 2020 — Scientists with NASA s first asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, are gaining a new understanding of asteroid Bennu s carbon-rich material and signature "spinning-top" shape. The team has ...

Dec. 5, 2019 — Shortly after NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging ...

May 25, 2016 — On Sept. 8, NASA s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to launch for terra incognita: the unknown surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Like expeditions of old, OSIRIS-REx s mission includes ...
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Technology
NASA s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer OSIRIS REx mission has successfully stowed the spacecraft s Sample Return Capsule SRC and its abundant sample of asteroid Bennu. On...
Technology
NASA s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer OSIRIS REx spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect...
Technology
On Aug. 17, the OSIRIS REx spacecraft obtained the first images of its target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 1.4 million miles 2.2 million km , or almost six times the...
Technology
As part of the rehearsal, OSIRIS REx also deployed its sampling arm, called the Touch And Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism TAGSAM , which it will use to scoop up a sample of rock and...
Technology
The OSIRIS REx spacecraft has launched aboard an Atlas V 411 rocket. It s headed towards the asteroid Bennu, which could hold some pretty incredible secrets about our origins. It s...