OSIRIS-REx — an international sample-return mission led by NASA and joined by science team members from Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy, and with an instrument provided through the Canadian Space Agency — is less than one month away from performing a Touch-And-Go sample collection maneuver to return portions of asteroid Bennu to Earth.
Meanwhile, science teams have observed regular material shedding activity from the near Earth object — an unexpected find that allows scientists to better understand the dynamic little worlds littered throughout the inner solar system.
Ready for Touch-And-Go
Since arriving in orbit of Bennu on 31 December 2018, the NASA-led OSIRIS-REx mission has observed the near Earth object, asteroid Bennu, with a suite of scientific sensors and instruments, designed not just to study and transmit data about the asteroid back to Earth, but also to meticulously map its surface in high detail ahead of the Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, now scheduled for 20 October.
The TAG will see OSIRIS-REx fire its maneuvering thrusters for an Orbit Departure burn to lower its safe-home orbit of 770 m above Bennu’s surface down toward the asteroid’s surface.
During this initial phase of descent, the spacecraft will ...