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Touchdown on an Asteroid: NASA OSIRIS-REx Effectively ‘Rehearses’ Bennu Touchdown

The schematic illustration of the trajectory adopted through OSIRIS-REx right through its Checkpoint trial. (Symbol: NASA)

Throughout the process, OSIRIS-REx made its closest ever option to Bennu, coming inside of simply 75 metres of the asteroid’s floor.

  • Remaining Up to date: April 16, 2020, 10:05 AM IST

Mankind’s quest to raised perceive asteroids simply went a step nearer. The day gone by, on April 15, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx house probe reached its closest but option to the asteroid Bennu, marking a last trial run of types forward of its eventual touchdown and pattern assortment endeavour scheduled for later this 12 months. Having effectively finished what NASA referred to as a ‘checkpoint practice session’, the Origins-Spectral Interpretation Useful resource Identity Safety Regolith Explorer, which is the professional nomenclature of OSIRIS-REx, has additionally despatched house images from Bennu.

Those images have printed in nearer element Nightingale, the northern hemisphere crater on Bennu’s floor, by which OSIRIS-REx is ready to land in. The probe’s closest ever option to Bennu dropped at an average altitude of 75 metres from the asteroid’s floor. Since achieving Bennu, OSIRIS-REx has remained in a ‘secure house’ orbit, finding out the asteroid from up shut, but afar. Its common orbit round Bennu is 1km above the skin. The day gone by’s manoeuvre incorporated two key steps of the touchdown procedure that can be adopted through OSIRIS-REx in August 2020, which can be the departure from its imply orbit and option to Checkpoint (at 125 metres above floor), and a next, nine-minute descent against Bennu that introduced the probe to its closest ever level to the asteroid.

In a remark shared through NASA, Erin Morton, the communications lead for the OSIRIS-REx venture, stated, “Throughout the practice session, the spacecraft effectively deployed its sampling arm, the Contact-And-Cross Pattern Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), from its folded, parked place out to the pattern assortment configuration. Moreover, one of the most spacecraft’s tools gathered science and navigation photographs and made spectrometry observations of the pattern web site, as will happen right through the pattern assortment tournament.

“This primary practice session equipped the venture group with follow navigating the spacecraft via each the orbit departure and Checkpoint maneuvers and with a chance to make sure that the spacecraft’s imaging, navigation and varying programs operated as anticipated right through the primary a part of the descent series. Checkpoint practice session additionally gave the group affirmation that OSIRIS-REx’s Herbal Function Monitoring (NFT) steering device appropriately estimated the spacecraft’s place and pace relative to Bennu because it descended towards the skin.”

The primary asteroid rock pattern assortment process is scheduled for August 25, when OSIRIS-REx will achieve Bennu’s floor, deploy its pattern assortment arm for simply 5 seconds, and accumulate a floor pattern and safely go back to its positino. That is believed to be the primary try at taking pictures a work of the asteroid, and it’s most probably that the probe would possibly want a couple of extra makes an attempt, if effects are unsatisfactory. OSIRIS-REx is anticipated to come back again to Earth with a piece of Bennu on September 24, 2023.

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