Mar 19, 2018
The Launch + 18 Months payload checkout and calibration campaign finished this last week with the REXIS checkout on March 13. The mission is now in the midst of extended calibrations for the OCAMS and TAGCAMS cameras, which will run until the end of this week. The OVIRS spectrometer will also get an opportunity to collect extra calibration data as a ride-along activity during a portion of the extended exercise.
As of today, the spacecraft is a little under 23 million km from Bennu and still has almost 541 million km left to travel before catching up to the asteroid this fall.
Mar 12, 2018
This last week was a busy one for the mission. Throughout the week, the spacecraft executed the Launch + 18 Months payload checkout and calibration campaign. Twice a year during Cruise Phase, the mission exercises its payload – the science and navigation instruments – to ensure they are working as expected and to continue instrument calibrations in preparation for asteroid operations. The campaign extends over the next two weeks to provide continued calibration opportunities for OCAMS (the science cameras) and TAGCAMS (the navigation cameras).
This week the spacecraft also performed a checkout of newly approved downlink rates for communications back to Earth, and it completed the last of the scheduled SRC outgassing activities. The team on the ground is also progressing through the nine-week Super ORT (Operational Readiness Test) simulation exercise in parallel with real world activities.
Mar 05, 2018
This last week the OSIRIS-REx team commenced an extensive Operational Readiness Test (ORT), known as the Super ORT, in preparation for asteroid proximity operations. Over the next nine weeks, the mission’s planning teams, instrument teams, and ops teams will be simulating the full range of activities required to support the mission during the last week of Approach Phase (currently scheduled for late November). By rehearsing the actual operations the mission team will perform once OSIRIS-REx arrives at Bennu, the Super ORT will thoroughly exercise the mission’s team, tools, and processes.
Feb 26, 2018
Flight operations continued normally this last week. The mission team on the ground is in the midst of preparing the Launch + 18 Months calibration campaign scheduled for execution in early March.
OSIRIS-REx is currently 61.6 million km from Earth.
Feb 19, 2018
This week the spacecraft conducted activities that validated its ability to perform some of the maneuvers required for sample collection. On Feb. 12, the spacecraft conducted a TAG (Touch-and-Go) Backaway Maneuver, demonstrating the propulsive maneuver the spacecraft will use to leave the asteroid’s surface after sampling. On Feb. 15 and 16, the spacecraft ran a checkout of its two precision LTR (Low Thrust Rocket-Engine-Assembly) Thrusters. These tiny rocket engines will be used to make fine velocity adjustments when OSIRIS-REx is in orbit about Bennu, such as the spacecraft’s critical orbit phasing burn to set up the proper orbit departure point leading to sample acquisition.
OSIRIS-REx is currently 30 million km from Bennu and has 648 million km to left to travel before it reaches the asteroid.
Feb 12, 2018
This last week, spacecraft operations continued normally. On the ground, further analysis of the 80 TAGCAMS images from the January stray light characterization activity discovered that some of NavCam1’s testing images had captured the Earth and Moon system. The images were taken from over 63 million km away while the spacecraft was moving away from Earth at approximately 8.6 km/second.
Feb 05, 2018
Flight operations continued normally this last week. The team finished up the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) regression test checkout with the new flight software in place and are now running an analysis of the results. The second in-flight checkouts of LIDARs 1 and 2 were also run on January 29 and February 2.
As of today, the spacecraft has traveled a total of 1.35 billion kilometers since launch in September 2016.
Jan 29, 2018
This last week the team uploaded new flight software for the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) to the spacecraft and conducted an instrument checkout, which confirmed that it is operating as expected. On the ground, the spacecraft’s instrument scientists and engineers met at the OREx Science Processing and Operations Center (SPOC) at the University of Arizona to help finalize the mission’s science operations schedule of activities, which will begin in August 2018.
The spacecraft is currently travelling approximately 29,072 km/hr (18,064 mph) relative to Earth.
Jan 22, 2018
On January 16-17, the mission team conducted a stray light characterization activity involving the OCAMS (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite) instrument and the TAGCAMS navigation cameras.
Stray light occurs whenever sunlight shines on the OSIRIS-REx science deck and the sun’s rays bounce off its taller structures, such as PolyCam, OTES, and the Sample Return Capsule. Through a series of second, third and higher-level reflections, this redirected light finds its way into the cameras’ fields of view and produces glare in the images, especially for long exposures.
The goal of the stray light test is to study and determine the direction and amount of unwanted light that is scattered into the cameras. The Image Processing Working Group uses these stray-light background patterns to correct images that are acquired when the science deck points toward the Sun, such as during the search for possible dust and gas plumes around Bennu.
The amount of stray light that the spacecraft’s cameras have detected is within normal system performance requirements. This stray light characterization study is simply an effort to understand the behavior of the system in flight in the real space environment, which couldn’t be fully realized on the ground or in computer simulations before launch.
Jan 15, 2018
Last week, OSIRIS-REx continued normal Outbound Cruise operations. On Jan. 10, the spacecraft performed another tilting maneuver in support of the ongoing outgassing campaign. On Jan. 15, the spacecraft resumed communicating back to Earth over its High Gain Antenna, following a four-month period limited to the Low Gain Antennas with attendant low downlink rates.
The spacecraft’s one-way light time for communications back to Earth is currently 3 minutes and 27 seconds.