NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is on its way to study and sample 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group. The craft recently completed its first Deep Space Maneuver, DSM-1.
NASA received OSIRIS-REx tracking data relayed by its Deep Space Network this week, confirming the Dec. 28 maneuver was a success.
“DSM-1 was our first major trajectory change and first use of the main engines, so it’s good to have that under our belts and be on a safe trajectory to Bennu,” Arlin Bartels, deputy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., explained in a news release.
The spacecraft used 780 pounds of fuel to boost its speed by 964 miles per hour. The shift in velocity and trajectory will put the craft in position to benefit from the pull of Earth’s gravity in September 2017. Earth’s gravity will help swing the craft toward its rendezvous with Bennu.
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to make a more refined adjustment to its trajectory on Jan. 18. The craft is scheduled to meet Bennu in the fall of 2018.
OSIRIS-REx will orbit and image the asteroid for several months before executing a flyby, during which the craft will attempt to collect material from the asteroid’s surface with a long robotic arm. The craft is expected home in 2023.
Astronomers believe asteroids-turned-meteorites delivered Earth many of the elements essential to life. Bennu samples could help scientists better understand the origins of both the solar system and life on Earth.
You can read Product Design & Development’s coverage of OSIRIS-REx’s launch here.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense