NASA’s Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx examining the landing on Asteroid Bennu
Credits – NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft to collect and examine samples of Asteroid Bennu has achieved success in its mission. The robotic spacecraft finally collected all the dust and pebbles from the surface. According to NASA, the spacecraft will land back on Earth in 2023.
The Asteroid Bennu is filled with rich carbons and is 200 million miles (i.e., 321 million kilometers) from Earth. The study of Asteroid Bennu will help scientists dig more information about the asteroid of how it could have helped seeded life on Earth.
According to the reports, During the landing mission, the OSIRIS-REx accelerated its thrusters to settle itself around the orbit of asteroid Bennu at 1:50 p.m. Its various mechanical capabilities extended its 11-foot (3.35-meter) sampling arm known as the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM). The OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft transited across Bennu while descending about around half-mile-805 meters near the surface. And after a four-hour descent, at an altitude of approximately 410 feet (125 meters), then the spacecraft executed the “Checkpoint” burn, the first of two maneuvers to allow it to precisely target the sample collection site, known as “Nightingale.”
The OSIRIS-REx grabbed the samples on October 20th, four years later, after its launch from the Earth. The landing phase of the spacecraft was perfectly executed. According to the engineers, the Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx did a great job collecting the samples. Still, the samples consisted of a substantial chunk of asteroid rocks, some being fairly large in size. This led to a jammed flap at the end of the arm, supposed to keep the material closed. Due to the improper closure of the spacecraft’s flap, some particles got dusted into space as the tiny particles were escaping out into the void.
I placed the collector head into the SRC on Tuesday evening… pic.twitter.com/s0nDXrY8BS
— NASA's OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) October 29, 2020
The team NASA said that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was supposed to spin up this week. The team calculated the vehicle’s momentum to determine just how much sample the spacecraft has collected. Unfortunately, the engineers decided to cancel the mission due to the panel’s problem, which led to drifting rocks escaping into space.
The entire operation was monitored carefully by the team and engineers. With carefully monitoring, it was reported that the operation of the storage process took a couple of days to complete, and the entire sample seems to have gone off just fine. The flaps are now secure enough to carry out the mission. “We’re here to announce today that we’ve completed that operation,” a statement by Rich Burns, the OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a press conference.
The team is still unsure how much material the spacecraft has stored since they had to cancel the spin maneuver, as the goal of the team was to grab at least 60 grams of the sample material from Bennu. After a lot of observation, it was estimated that the spacecraft had collected at least 400 grams of material. According to Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission at the University of Arizona stated that “The pictures show only about 17 percent of what the sample collector holds inside.”
The team is still unsure exactly how much grams of sample material the spacecraft will be brought to Earth until 2023. According to the plan, the spacecraft will leave Bennu in March and land in the Utah Desert.
The team is excited to examine Asteroid Bennu and what lies within the sample that makes up Asteroid Bennu.