OSIRIS-REx rehearsed sampling from the surface of asteroid Bennu

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s OSIRIS-REx space probe continues to prepare for an important phase of its mission. The device is located in the orbit of the asteroid Bennu and performs maneuvers before collecting samples from the surface of this space object.

Previous maneuvers brought the vehicle closer to the surface of the asteroid at 620 and 250 meters. Now OSIRIS-REx has reached a point 75 meters from Bennu.

This maneuver was called the “ Checkpoint” , because at this turn the autonomous system of the spacecraft will independently check its position and speed relative to Bennu, as well as adjust the trajectory before continuing to the surface.

The rehearsal made it possible to check the operation of the systems of image formation, navigation and determining the distance of the spacecraft from the surface of the asteroid.

Since the maneuver was just another rehearsal, after its execution the probe returned to orbit at a safe distance from the asteroid (about one kilometer). During increasingly close approaches, OSIRIS-REx photographs the surface of an asteroid. These images are stored in the on-board computer memory and are part of the Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) program , which is designed to compare them with real-time data from the camera’s cameras. This will allow you to safely approach the sampling location on a thick Bennu surface covered with a thick layer of crushed rock.

“This rehearsal allowed us to test the operability of the flight system during the descent, in particular, the automatic update and guidance system,” – Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

The actual maneuver of soil sampling from the Bennu surface is scheduled for late August 2020. As a result, the apparatus will pick up and collect a certain amount of regolith, which should be delivered to Earth by 2023.

The OSIRIS-REx probe was successfully launched into orbit in September 2016 as part of a mission to bring together and collect samples from the surface of the 500-meter asteroid Bennu (1999 RQ36). The device reached the orbit of the asteroid in December 2018.

(101955) Bennu is a 500-meter near-Earth asteroid from the Apollo group, which was discovered in 2013 and named after a bird from ancient Egyptian mythology.

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