Home / Science / NASA’s OSIRIS-REx completes the final tour of the asteroid Bennu before making it 180,000,000 miles back to Earth.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx completes the final tour of the asteroid Bennu before making it 180,000,000 miles back to Earth.



Final Asteroid Observation of NASA OSIRIS-REx

This artist’s concept shows the planned flight path of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during the final flight over the asteroid Bennu, scheduled for April 7.Credit: ASA / Goddard / University of Arizona.

NASAof OSIRIS-REx Bennu’s final overpass was built around 6am EDT (4:00 AM MDT) on April 7 and is now slowly drifting away from the asteroid. The mission team, however, will have to wait a few days to find out how the spacecraft changed Bennu’s surface when it captured asteroid samples.

The OSIRIS-REx team added this flyby to document the surface changes as a result of the Touch and Go (TAG) sampling maneuver on October 20, 2020, “by exploring the distribution of mined materials around the TAG site. We will learn more about The nature of the surface and subsurface materials, along with the mechanical properties of the asteroid, said Dr. Dante Loretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona.

Top-down view of the asteroid Bennu.

This image shows a top-down view of asteroid Benu, part of the asteroid’s equatorial line and the northern hemisphere illuminated, taken by PolyCam camera aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on March 4, 2021 from distance. Approximately 186 miles (300 km), the spacecraft’s cameras point directly to Bennu’s North Pole.Two large equatorial craters can be seen at the edge of the asteroid. (Center and center left) The image was obtained during the mission’s Post-TAG operating phase as the spacecraft slowly approached Bennu in preparation for the final observation flight on April 7.Credits: NASA. / Goddard / University of Arizona

During the flight through OSIRIS-REx, Bennu was photographed for 5.9 hours, covering a fully rotating asteroid. It flies within 2.1 miles (3.5 kilometers) to the surface of Bennu, the closest since the TAG sampling event.

It will take until April 13 at least for OSIRIS-REx to downlink all data and new images of Bennu’s surface recorded during flight, the Deep Space Network antenna is used in conjunction with other missions such as Mars. Perseverance, And typically, a downlink time is 4–6 hours per day. “We collected about 4,000 megabytes of data during the flight,” said Mike Moreau, OSIRIS-REx deputy manager of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Bennu is about 185 million miles from Earth right now, which means we can achieve a downlink data rate of 412 kbps, so it takes days for all flight data to be downloaded.”

OSIRIS-REx Bennu departs

NASA is inviting the public to watch OSIRIS-REx departing Bennu on NASA.gov and NASA TV on May 10, 2021 at 4 p.m. EDT.

Once the mission team obtained images and other instrumental data, they will study how OSIRIS-REx flipped Bennu’s surface during the touchdown.The spacecraft’s sampling head sank 1.6 feet (48.8 centimeters) into the surface. The spacecraft’s thrusters kicked large amounts of surface material during the rear combustion – releasing rocks and dust in the process.

OSIRIS-REx, With its pristine and prized asteroid cargo, it will remain in close proximity to Bennu until May 10, when it will fire its thrusters and begin sailing home for two years. This mission will send an asteroid sample to Earth on September 24, 2023.

KinetX Flight Navigator Leilah McCarthy

KinetX Flight Navigator Leilah McCarthy processes navigation images to help target NASA’s final OSIRIS-REx flight target of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Credit: KinetX Inc./Coralie Adam.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides total mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer), Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson. It is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona is also leading the science and planning, scientific observation and data processing teams of the Lockheed Martin Space mission in Denver, building the spacecraft and serving Goddard aviation, and KinetX Aerospace is responsible for piloting the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.




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