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
JUN 13, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 13, 2018
NASA's Opportunity Rover Falls Silent Amid Worsening Martian Dust Storm
If you weren’t already aware, NASA’s solar-powered Opportunity rover is in a bit of a pickle right now. A continent-sized dust storm enveloped...
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi...
JUL 27, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 27, 2018
TESS Begins Searching for Exoplanets
NASA, in an official statement this week, announced that its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission had commenced scientific operations on We...
JUL 31, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUL 31, 2018
Where Does Earth Get Its Water
We live on Earth, the so-called blue planet. Without water, Earth would not be "blue" at all, not to mention the life that is bred on the planet...
AUG 20, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 20, 2018
Martian Dust Storm Begins Clearing, Sparking Hope for the Opportunity Rover
Back in June, Mars became enveloped by a planet-wide dust storm. The dust from the storm blocked so much sunlight that NASA felt compelled to put its solar...
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
Ever Wonder How Long it Takes to Get to Mars? Watch This
Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it&rsqu...
Loading Comments...