Nasa’s Osiris-Rex (starting points, spectral interpretation, resource ID, security, regolith explorer) asteroid mission has played out its final practice run for its approaching sample collection manoeuvre.
The rocket is 288m km from Earth, in orbit around the asteroid Bennu. On 20 October it is scheduled to descend and contact the asteroid, where it will gather material from the surface.
Asteroids are antiquated celestial objects that date from the formation of the solar system. They can in this way uncover the conditions where our planet formed.
On 11 August the spacecraft nearer Bennu to an altitude of around 40 meters over the designated collection site, and afterward stepped back into its 1km-high safe-home orbit.
The rehearsal lasted over four hours. The sequence must be modified ahead of time since it takes 16 minutes for a signal to travel between Earth and the rocket, preventing real-time operation.
During the rehearsal, the sampling arm, known as the touch-and-go sample acquisition mechanism, unfolded and assumed its working configuration.
This was the team’s second test run. Whenever the spacecraft approaches Bennu will be the acquisition endeavor. The samples gathered will be dropped to Earth in a protective capsule on 24 September 2023.