NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft hit its goal, the asteroid Bennu (101955 Bennu), on December three, 2018. Since then, the spacecraft has been analyzing the floor of the asteroid, searching for an appropriate touchdown level to gather a pattern. The issue is that Bennu has a way more rocky and tough floor than initially thought.
The principle mission of OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Useful resource Identification, Safety, Regolith Explorer) is to gather a pattern of the asteroid Bennu and return it to Earth. It’s a dangerous transfer, and to achieve success, the spacecraft should discover a sampling location that meets two situations: it will need to have fine-grained materials appropriate for sampling, and it should be secure for the spacecraft.
The spacecraft carefully studied the floor of the asteroid and, in December, NASA introduced that it had decreased the sampling website to 4 candidates on the theme of the asteroid. 39; avian: Kingfisher, Osprey, Sandpiper and Nightingale. After taking a better have a look at these 4, NASA chosen Nightingale as the first sampling website, with Osprey serving because the reserve.
The OSIRIS-REx Osprey backup sampling website on the asteroid Bennu. Picture credit score: NASA / GSFC
Then it is going to get even nearer.
In March, it is going to perform the reconnaissance section C. Throughout this section, the spacecraft will strategy inside 250 m (820 ft) of Bennu. On March three, it is going to fly over Nightingale at this altitude, and on March 26 will probably be the identical for Osprey. These flyovers will present essential high-resolution photos of every website to establish the ample fine-grained supplies at every website.
As soon as the popularity section C is accomplished, OSIRIS-REx will carry out two repetitions of its sampling operation. He’ll observe leaving his orbit and going to a predetermined checkpoint instantly on the sampling location, then he’ll return to his secure orbit. Throughout the second repetition, it is going to depart its orbit and its maneuver to a Matchpoint. There it is going to fly over the sampling location earlier than returning to orbit once more.
The TAGSAM (Contact-and-Go-Pattern-Acquisition-Mechanism) instrument of the spacecraft will accumulate a pattern of Bennu's regolith. TAGSAM is an articulated robotic arm. As OSIRIS-REx approaches Nightingale, it is going to lengthen this arm towards the floor of the asteroid. The spacecraft will strategy the asteroid very slowly and, in doing so, TAGSAM will make contact.
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