NASA shared amazing images of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that landed on an asteroid the day before. Thanks to the photographs, he shows how the spacecraft mixes rocks and debris on its contact surface. The purpose of the landing was to collect a sample of material from the asteroid, but the engineers behind the spacecraft say they won’t be sure if they will collect anything worthwhile until they rotate the vehicle this weekend and measure how much material is inside.
However, the OSIRIS-REx team feels confident they are getting something that works. Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, said during a press conference, “From the analysis of the images we have obtained so far, we understand that the sampling thing is going really well, going as well as we can imagine.” said. “And I think the probability of having material inside has increased a lot according to the analysis of the images.”
Images of the incident show how OSIRIS-REx snatched parts of the asteroid Bennu, on Tuesday. The images highlight the end of an extended robotic arm tasked with pressing OSIRIS-REx gently against Bennu’s surface. “We were in contact with the surface for about six seconds and our collection time was around five seconds,” Sandy Freund, who served as OSIRIS-REx mission support manager at Lockheed Martin, told the press conference. said. When it touched the Bennu, the spacecraft’s arm ejected a nitrogen gas, causing the rocks and gravel on the asteroid to move and spin wildly. It is hoped that the gas caused some of these rocks to eject into the arm.
A waiting period has now started, we are waiting for the OSIRIS-REx team to take a look at the data. On Saturday, engineers will send the OSIRIS-REx, with the sampling arm extended, on a turn, measuring the vehicle’s inertia. They will then compare these measurements with how the OSIRIS-REx had rotated once before, without any samples on the arm. The difference between these measurements will give the team a better idea of how much material the vehicle picked up on Tuesday.
And if OSIRIS-REx has grabbed enough, at least 60 grams, then the mission team will begin preparing for the spacecraft’s departure from Bennu next year. And it will embark on a long journey that will take its precious burden back to the scientists here.