NASA Prepares For First Asteroid Sample Collection Attempt

Washington: NASA’s first asteroid sampling spacecraft is now only one rehearsal away from grabbing a pattern from asteroid Bennu’s floor.

The OSIRIS-REx mission will conduct a remaining rehearsal of its landing sequence on August 11, training the pattern assortment actions one final time earlier than touching down on Bennu in October, NASA mentioned.

This “Matchpoint” rehearsal will probably be much like the April 14 “Checkpoint” rehearsal, which practiced the primary two manoeuvres of the descent.

This time the spacecraft will add a 3rd manoeuvre, referred to as the Matchpoint burn, and fly even nearer to pattern website Nightingale — reaching an altitude of roughly 40 metre — earlier than backing away from the asteroid.

Through the descent, the spacecraft fires its thrusters three separate instances to make its means right down to the asteroid’s floor.

The spacecraft will journey at a median pace of round 0.three kph in the course of the roughly four-hour tour.

Following the rehearsal, the OSIRIS-REx workforce will confirm the flight system’s efficiency in the course of the descent, together with that the Matchpoint burn precisely adjusted the spacecraft’s descent trajectory for its landing on Bennu.

As soon as the mission workforce determines that OSIRIS-REx operated as anticipated, they may command the spacecraft to return to its safe-home orbit round Bennu.

On October 20, the spacecraft will journey all the way in which to the asteroid’s floor throughout its first pattern assortment try, NASA mentioned.

Throughout this occasion, OSIRIS-REx’s sampling mechanism will contact Bennu’s floor for about 5 seconds, fireplace a cost of pressurised nitrogen to disturb the floor and gather a pattern earlier than the spacecraft backs away.

The spacecraft is scheduled to return the pattern to Earth on September 24, 2023.


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