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Next Task for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft: Kiss an Asteroid and Avoid Mount Doom

Dangerously plunge the alien into the hollow. Never gently touch the rocky surface of the asteroid. Suck some handful of pebbles and dust. Navigate through excavations avoiding craggy rock walls and a rock called “Mount Dome.” Then fly back to earth. This is a difficult task that NASA has assigned to OSIRIS-Rx, a small spacecraft on a multiyear coast, to collect pieces of an asteroid. This will push the limits of SUV-size scrutiny, which has already established numerous solar system records for its ambitious orbits. And it will test the capabilities of scientists to integrate complex space exercises from a million miles away.

But if OSIRIS-REx succeeds, it will collect material from the earliest days of the solar system – a material that can give clues about our beginnings and perhaps even the ingredients for life.


The selection for sampling from this challenging site was announced last week at the annual meeting of the US Geophysical Union.

“It was not an easy decision,” Lori Gleese, director of the science division on NASA’s planets, told colleagues at a NASA town hall. “But I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The target of OSIRIS-REx is the size of the asteroid, the bunnies, the size of the Empire State Building, and the shape of a frozen candy. Instead of sugar, it’s made of carbon-rich rock – the kind of material researchers believe is representative of the rotating gas and dust disk from which the solar system was found.

Although “carbonaceous” has been surveyed by asteroid telescopes and collected in the form of falling earthquakes, scientists have never been able to study the material closely. With OSISIS-REx, they hope, they get their first chance.

The spacecraft is equipped with an expandable arm with a nitrogen gas canister and sample collection tube. Next August, in a tactic that is compared to kissing the top five, kissing and blowing raspberries, they will descend to the surface of the bun, reach the arm, and release a puff of gas from which the pebbles and Dust blows Surface and Collection in Tube.
The investigation has been reviewing Bannu for more than a year, in a very diligent detail, and for carrying out this complex process. Finding the right place. Bannu is the smallest thing ever spacecraft has rotated, and OSIRIS-Rx has already come closer to the asteroid than any other skill.
The area around the asteroid is much more treacherous than the OSIRIS-REx was originally designed to navigate. Where scientists expected relatively smooth smooth and dust-covered surfaces, the bean is “rocky and invasive,” said Glaze, adding that very little material was sufficient to fit the sampling device. The spacecraft could be irreparably damaged if gravity or momentary flying caused the wrong calculation to move it into a crack of rocks or rocks. And OSIRIS-Rx will have to isolate itself with whatever modifications it may require. It takes about 15 minutes for a radio signal to reach Bannu to Earth. For scientists on Earth, it takes a long time to run a probe like a remote control model aircraft.
Therefore, during many OSISIS-REx orbitals, engineers have mapped out many of the dangers of Bannu. Using a feature called Natural Feature Tracking, OSIRIS-Rx avoids the things you see during your descent. Will be able to match the finished list of items. Michael Maurau, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and a patrol mission, estimates that an upgrade in the probe’s navigation system has made it five times more precise.
“These steps have been taken to allow us to go to places that are a very uncertain site on Bannu,” he said.
The sample site, known as Nightingale, sits in a pit in the northern hemisphere of Bannu. It contains a set of cold, colorful materials that guide the image processing of missions, said Daniela Della Justina, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, considered some of the most scientifically interesting rocks on the asteroid.
But the diameter of this site is only 52 feet. This is a tight fit for the OSISIS-REx’s 20-foot wings. It is surrounded by covered rocks and the mountain is shaded by 20 feet long section of torment.
“We’re basically trying to get the spacecraft into a space that is a couple feet wide, and it’s only a few steps away from a two- or three-story tall building,” Moreau said. And they’re doing it millions of miles away.
OSIRIS-REx is equipped with three nitrogen canisters, meaning NASA has three possibilities to collect its valuable specimens. The mission team has also selected an easy-to-access backup site called Osprey if their efforts at Nightingale fail.
But the spacecraft will have to finish its work by spring 2021, when the best arrangement has been made to begin the journey home to OSIRIS-Rx in Bannu and Earth orbit.

READ:  Large Asteroid to Fly By Earth Next Week: Here's What You Need to Know

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