AUG 28, 2017 2:23 PM PDT

NASA Adjusts the Course of the OSIRIS-REx Mission

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
DEC 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
First Sunspot Image From World's Largest Solar Telescope
DEC 05, 2020
First Sunspot Image From World's Largest Solar Telescope
The National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope produced this stunning image of a sunspot earlier thi ...
JAN 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
JAN 06, 2021
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
Astronomers have used powerful telescopes high in the Atacama desert to evaluate estimates of the age of the universe. T ...
APR 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
APR 10, 2021
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
  There are currently around 900,000 pieces of man-made space junk orbiting Earth- mostly from now-defunct satellit ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
More Accurate Clocks Create More Disorder in the Universe
MAY 23, 2021
More Accurate Clocks Create More Disorder in the Universe
Physicists at the University of Oxford in the UK have conducted an experiment that suggests the more accurately clocks t ...
JUN 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
JUN 16, 2021
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
Earth and the planets in the solar system sit within the heliosphere, a giant bubble formed by the charged particles, li ...
JUL 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
JUL 09, 2021
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
The Kepler Space Telescope has captured evidence of mysterious free-floating planets, or planets that are alone in deep ...
Loading Comments...