OSIRIS-REx to Hi-Five Asteroid Bennu
On September 9th NASA launched it’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a mission to collect the first ever surface material from the near-Earth asteroid, Bennu.
Aside from sporting the coolest name in the history of spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx carries seriously some dope tech. REx’s mission is to park itself in orbit around Bennu, getting closer and closer to the surface with each pass. In 2020, when Bennu is within arm’s reach of REx, the spacecraft will deploy its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) to collect a sample.
Upon contact, the robotic arm’s sampler head will exhale nitrogen gas to stir up surface materials, then inhale to collect a ~4 pound sample. TAGSAM then retracts and deposits the sampler head into REx’s Sample Return Capsule, where it will stay for the year long ride back to Earth. As Earth approaches, REx will jettison the capsule, braving the fires of atmospheric reentry. The sample is scheduled to arrive on the ground in the Utah desert on September 24, 2023 concluding the seven year round trip #ToBennuAndBack.
Update – 9/28/2016
NASA has just announced that OSIRIS-REx has passed the “initial instrument check with flying colors.”
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