AUG 28, 2017 02:23 PM PDT

NASA Adjusts the Course of the OSIRIS-REx Mission

NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission launched almost a year ago with the primary goal of visiting Bennu, an asteroid expected to tango closely with the Earth in August of 2018.

OSIRIS-REx won’t land on Bennu’s surface, but it will get close enough to kick up some dust and collect samples to be returned to Earth, allowing scientists to analyze the results for the sake of science.

An artist's impression of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performing a Deep Space Maneuver.

Image Credit: NASA

OSIRIS-REx currently resides 10.3 million miles away from the Earth and will use the planet’s gravitational pull as a slingshot mechanism on September 22nd to get into position for Bennu. The stunt will ensure that OSIRIS-REx gets where it needs to be when the time comes, but just recently, the probe needed slight repositioning.

NASA initiated a Deep Space Maneuver (DSM) at 1 P.M. EST on August 23rd to guide the probe into the right path. The task involved activating the spacecraft's internal momentum wheel to combat the effects of microgravity and turn the spacecraft in the right direction for thruster firing.

The thruster burn lasted approximately 77 seconds, which was enough to alter the spacecraft’s velocity by ~1.07 miles per hour. The feat used just 16 ounces of onboard fuel, leaving enough left over for future adjustments if necessary.

By September 12th, another thruster burn may be required to finalize OSIRIS-REx’s positioning, but engineers are still assessing whether it’ll be necessary.

The precision of these kinds of maneuvers is critical. Otherwise, the probe would be sent off course and ruin the entire mission. Fortunately, NASA has talented engineers working out the math.

The information collected by OSIRIS-REx is imperative for better understanding Bennu and other similar asteroids. The fact that Bennu threatens to collide with the Earth sometime between 2175 and 2199 only strengthens the argument for studying it.

Related: A massive asteroid is set to pass Earth closely on September 1st, 2017

It should be interesting to see the results of the gravitational slingshot, as well as what kinds of data we’ll receive when OSIRIS-REx meets Bennu next year.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Will 3D-Printed Rockets Take Off in the Spaceflight Industry?
Massive spaceflight companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are spearheading a movement to commercialize the spaceflight industry and develop an infrastructu...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Can We Prevent Phobos' Inevitable Demise?
Mars has two natural satellites: Deimos and Phobos; the latter orbits Mars closer than any other moon orbiting the other planets in the solar system, and i...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
What Twin Galaxies Can Teach Us About Our Own
We reside in the Milky Way galaxy, and being that we exist inside of it, it’s particularly challenging to snag a glimpse of the Milky Way itself. Thi...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Here's What the Earth Would Be Like if it Spun Sideways
Planet Earth – the place we all call our home – rotates on its axis with a 23.5-degree tilt. Planetary scientists think that an early solar sys...
OCT 14, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 14, 2019
Can We Grow Plants on Mars?
If we were ever to send humans to Mars for a long-term or permanent visit, then it’d be essential that we develop some sort of renewable food source....
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
NASA and SpaceX Reevaluate Commercial Crew Timeline
It appeared that there was recently some tension between NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk regarding the American space agency&rs...
Loading Comments...