The OSIRIS-REx, i.e. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer has a bold purpose of scooping up materials from Bennu and returning the pattern to Earth for evaluation. However earlier than the spacecraft can descend to the asteroid’s floor, mission planners should take a look at footage and information and different data to present the shuttle the perfect likelihood of a secure touchdown.
Even earlier than that, there was the problem of stepping into orbit. The photographs had been taken by Navcam 1, a black and white imaging system that’s one among three cameras in OSIRIS-REx’s Touch and Go Camera System. This suite of devices will likely be essential to assist the spacecraft with its steering, navigation, and management within the coming months.
OSIRIS-REx’s orbital maneuver set a file because the asteroid is the smallest physique ever orbited by a spacecraft. Bennu is just 1,640 ft (500 meters) broad, roughly the size of five U.S. soccer fields. The shuttle additionally performs the closest orbit ever of a small body, attaining a preliminary orbit of 1 mile (1.6 km) from the surface.
OSIRIS-REx launched in September 2016 with the overarching aim of serving to scientists higher perceive the formation of the early solar system, together with carbon-wealthy asteroids that will have introduced water and natural molecules to the Earth’s floor and helped spark life. The probe is scheduled for a parachute touchdown within the Utah desert in September 2023, when it ought to arrive with a valuable load of supplies scooped up from Bennu’s floor in mid-2020.