Mission Status

Jul 15, 2019

OSIRIS-REX successfully completed its second week of global mapping for Orbital B phase. This week, OLA, PolyCam, OTES, REXIS and NavCam executed their scheduled science activities from a nadir-pointed attitude (nadir is the location directly below the spacecraft). In addition to nadir tracking, the mission also successfully completed an OLA/LIDAR cross-calibration exercise on July 6. The cross-calibration activity seeks to confirm that both the GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) LIDAR range data and OLA scans are consistent with one another. Calibration data review is scheduled over the course of the next week.

The mission’s Sample Site Selection Board also made significant progress in down-selecting potential Regions of Interest (ROIs) this week. The team is closer to selecting the four candidate sample collection sites that will be thoroughly evaluated during the Reconnaissance phase of the mission.




Jul 08, 2019

This week, OSIRIS-REx successfully executed its first week of global mapping from Orbital B’s low altitude orbit. On July 1, the team observed Bennu with the spacecraft’s onboard science instruments (except for OVIRS). During the global mapping phase of Orbital B, OLA will collect data in support of 5-cm Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) for site-specific mapping. PolyCam will obtain intermediate-resolution imagery to help determine sampleability of Bennu’s topography. OTES will gather data to create local thermal inertia maps, and REXIS will analyze X-ray fluorescence. NavCam, a navigation instrument, will also contribute to the scientific investigation by continuing intensive dedicated particle imaging. July 1 also marked the first time that REXIS observed asteroid Bennu. The current global mapping effort supports the down-select process to identify the four sample sites that will be further studied as the mission moves into its Reconnaissance phase.

On July 3, OLA returned to operations after recovering from an instrument-level safe mode event. The spacecraft’s fault protection systems had safed the instrument on July 2 as a precaution when OLA did not respond to a routine aliveness check after completing 17 of 19 scans of Bennu’s surface. Investigation of telemetry subsequent to the event revealed no anomalous instrument behavior other than a few status bits that had flipped, potentially indicative of a radiation induced event. OLA was power-cycled to clear the issue, and instrument recovery and return-to-operations proved successful.




Jul 01, 2019

OSIRIS-REx completed its second full week of Orbital B phase. The team executed maneuvers M4B and M5B last week, which were the first Orbital B trim burn maneuvers. During the transfer from M4B to M5B, the team used the Low Thrust Reaction Engine Assembly (LTR) thrusters to place the spacecraft within 460 meters of Bennu’s surface. This is the closest OSIRIS-REx has ever been to Bennu.

Particle imaging also concluded this week, and the team will now turn on most of the spacecraft’s onboard instruments for collecting science data. Starting next week, the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) will produce a full terrain map; PolyCam will obtain context imagery of various surface geologies; the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and the REgolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) will produce global maps in the infrared and X-ray bands.




Jun 24, 2019

This week, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its first full week of Orbital B phase. For the first week in the new orbit, the team focused on monitoring Bennu’s horizon with the NavCam 1 imager for possible additional particle ejections. Checkouts on the two GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) LIDAR systems were also performed over the past week, and analysis of the data is underway.

The mission’s Science Team Meeting 15 also took place this week. Team members continued to evaluate potential sites for sample collection in preparation for the upcoming Reconnaissance phase of the mission. Data obtained during Detailed Survey phase was further analyzed to examine potential sample sites. The team categorized sites based on geologic setting (crater, ridge, basin, boulder field), color and spectral characteristics, and other properties. These categories are intended to facilitate the ongoing down-select process for potential sample collection sites.

Particle monitoring will continue next week, after which the team will begin collecting science data using onboard science instruments from the spacecraft’s low Orbital B altitude.




Jun 17, 2019

OSIRIS-REx has successfully completed its Detailed Survey phase and transitioned into a new record-setting orbit around Bennu!

Last week the OSIRIS-REx navigation team performed three maneuvers using the spacecraft’s attitude control thrusters to place the spacecraft into orbit around Bennu for the second time. The first two maneuvers, on June 8 and 10, were staging burns that moved the spacecraft into position for the third burn on June 12, which ultimately placed OSIRIS-REx into orbit. These maneuvers imparted a velocity change (delta-v) of 8, 6, and 7 cm/sec, respectively. Throughout the Orbital B phase, slow changes in the spacecraft’s orbit will require correction maneuvers approximately every three weeks. The spacecraft’s circular orbit period around Bennu is 22 hours, with a velocity of 7 centimeters per second, which allows for the mission’s science measurements to be observed from a uniform altitude.

June 12 marked the beginning of the mission’s Orbital B phase, and the spacecraft began its new orbit approximately 680 meters above Bennu’s surface. This orbit breaks the record that OSIRIS-REx set during its Orbital A phase for the closest a spacecraft has ever orbited a small planetary body, which was as close as 1.3 km above the asteroid’s surface. The first two weeks of Orbital B will focus on investigating the causes of Bennu’s particle ejection events by taking frequent images of the asteroid’s horizon. The remaining five weeks of Orbital B will focus on mapping the asteroid from a close range.

With the conclusion of the Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase on June 7, the team completed the mission’s main global survey effort. Here are the highlights from both Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond and Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phases (Feb 22 – Jun 7):

  • 14 Flyovers
  • 18 Observation Stations
  • 2,616 NavCam Images
  • 19,660 OCAMS Images
  • 2,286 OTES Data Acquisitions
  • 179 OVIRS Science Acquisitions
  • 19 OLA Scans
  • 333,591 Total Spacecraft and Payload Commands



Jun 10, 2019

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed its last week of the Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations mission phase. This week the team flew the spacecraft at the 6:00 p.m. Local Solar Time station. Station 7 observations included MapCam, OLA, OTES, and OVIRS, which performed continuous linear scans for a full rotation of Bennu. Following these initial observations, the spacecraft performed zig-zag scans using OTES and OVIRS in order to collect data in support of the thermal emission phase function. All of the data collected this week will further inform the team’s decisions for down-selecting sample collection sites in preparation for the Reconnaissance phase of the mission. The team is now preparing for the spacecraft to enter Orbital B.

June 4, 2019, marked 1,000 days since launch, which means OSIRIS-REx has been in flight for over 1,000 days. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has traveled about 2.5 billion km since launch, and has been operating in close proximity to Bennu since late 2018. As of now, one-way light time is 8.34 minutes.




Jun 03, 2019

Several key events took place on the ground and in space this week for OSIRIS-REx.

On the ground, the mission’s Site Selection Board (SSB) met at the University of Arizona on May 30 to review candidate sample collection sites and to down-select contending sites from ~50 locations. As designed, the down-select process was based on whether each Region of Interest (ROI) met specific safety criteria. The down-select resulted in 23 candidate sites remaining viable, with several others potentially remaining viable under stricter system performance limits. The next step will be to utilize data from the Detailed Survey phase to assess the sampleability (likelihood that an ingestible sample of regolith will be collected) of each viable region, leading to the next round of site down-selection.

Team members also participated in a Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) on May 29 to work through open items for the mission’s upcoming Reconnaissance phase, scheduled to begin in Fall 2019. Reconnaissance is the critical mission phase that will confirm that candidate sites are both safe and contain sampleable material, as well as provide the closeup imaging required to produce the features and landmarks required for autonomous navigation to the asteroid surface.

Up in space, the team successfully flew the spacecraft at the 6:00 a.m. Local Solar Time station for Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase on May 30. For the Station 5 observations, MapCam, OTES and OVIRS collected data in continuous linear scans for a full rotation of Bennu. After these initial observations, the spacecraft performed two east-west zig-zag scans with OTES and OVIRS. In tandem, these observations help create a more complete global safety map, as well as a global science value map and global sampleability map. Data gathered at this station may also help determine which candidate sample sites have sufficient deliverability.

Next week marks the last week of the Detailed Survey mission phase, and OSIRIS-REx will enter its final station before beginning Orbital B.




May 27, 2019

This last week was Week 5 of Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase. For each week of this phase, the spacecraft observes Bennu from a different Local Solar Time (LST) station. At each station, the spacecraft is centered on the equator at a distance of 5 km and observes the asteroid for one full Bennu rotation (4.3 hours).

On May 23, the spacecraft took observations from Station 5, located at 6:00 am LST. OVIRS, OTES and MapCam took observations and OLA scanned cross-track in ride-along mode. These observations contribute to the OVIRS and OCAMS photometric models, global spectral, temperature and thermal inertia maps, and the global shape models from SPC (35-cm) and OLA (75 cm).

As a preliminary step to the selection of the mission’s sample collection site, the team has been closely studying data obtained from 50 regions of interest on the asteroid. They are looking for sites that are safe for the spacecraft, sampleable and scientifically interesting. Starting next week, the team will begin narrowing down the number of possible sites, which will then be further characterized before a final and back-up site are chosen in July.

On May 22, the TAGCAMS navigation cameras went into brief safe-mode after missing an aliveness check. The instrument resumed operations later that day, which was confirmed during the scheduled High Gain Antenna (HGA) transmission.




May 20, 2019

This last week was Week 4 of Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase. For each week of this phase, the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a different Local Solar Time (LST) station. At each station, the spacecraft will be centered on the equator at a distance of 5 km and will observe the asteroid for one full Bennu rotation (4.3 hours).

On May 16, the spacecraft took observations from Station 4, located at 10:00 am LST. The 10:00 am station is the prime station for OVIRS observations. The team is operating OVIRS in a special high-resolution mode to get the best possible information about the mineralogy and organic composition of the surface for sample site selection. MapCam and OTES also took observations with OLA scanning in ride-along mode. These observations contribute to the OVIRS and OCAMS photometric models, global spectral, temperature and thermal inertia maps, and the global shape models from SPC (35-cm) and OLA (75 cm).

Immediately following Station 4, OTES observed Bennu in a series of east-west zig-zag scans to provide data for the thermal emission phase function. OVIRS took ride along scans and MapCam took context images.




May 13, 2019

This last week was Week 3 of Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase. For each week of this phase, the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a different Local Solar Time (LST) station. At each station, the spacecraft will be centered on the equator at a distance of 5 km and will observe the asteroid for one full Bennu rotation (4.3 hours).

On May 9, the spacecraft took observations from Station 3, located at 12:30 pm LST, with OVIRS, OTES, MapCam, and OLA. These observations contribute to the OVIRS and OCAMS photometric models, global spectral, temperature and thermal inertia maps, and the global shape models from SPC (35-cm) and OLA (75 cm).

On May 11, OTES observed Bennu in a series of east-west zig-zag scans to provide data for the thermal emission phase function. OVIRS took ride along scans and MapCam took context images.




May 06, 2019

This last week was Week 2 of Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase. For each week of this phase the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a different Local Solar Time (LST) station. At each station, the spacecraft will be centered on the equator at a distance of 5 km and will observe the asteroid for one full Bennu rotation (4.3 hours).

On May 2, the spacecraft took observations from Station 2, located at 3:20 am LST, with MapCam, OVIRS and OTES. These observations contribute to the OVIRS and OCAMS photometric models, global temperature and thermal inertia maps, and the global 35-cm SPC shape model. This position – with Bennu backlit by the sun – also provides the team with the opportunity to perform another dust plume search of the area around the asteroid.




Apr 29, 2019

This last week was the first week of Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase. Each week during this phase, the spacecraft will observe Bennu from a different Local Solar Time (LST) station. At each station, the spacecraft will be centered on the equator at a distance of 5 km and will observe the asteroid for one full Bennu rotation (4.3 hours). On April 25, the spacecraft took observations from Station 1, located at 3:00 pm LST, with MapCam, OVIRS, OTES and OLA.

Continued analysis of NavCam 1 images detected that another particle ejection event occurred on April 19. The study of the events and their causes is ongoing.




Apr 22, 2019

Last week was the conclusion of the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. Each week during this phase the spacecraft executed a flyby of Bennu at a different observing angle.

On April 18 and 19, the spacecraft performed Flyby 7, during which it observed Bennu with MapCam, OLA and OTES at the 12:30 pm local solar time position. The pass was divided into two phases – A and B. Flyby 7A occurred over Bennu’s northern hemisphere at 40°latitude from a distance of 3.8 km. Flyby 7B occurred over Bennu’s southern hemisphere at -40°latitude, also from a distance of 3.8 km. During both phases, the spacecraft slewed east, west and straight down to image every 24°of Bennu’s rotation.

Next week, the mission moves into Detailed Survey: Equatorial Stations phase.

On Earth, a contingent from the OSIRIS-REx team, including the PI, traveled to Japan last week for a technical interchange meeting with JAXA’s Hayabusa2 team. The topics discussed included the first Hayabusa2 sample collection event and OSIRIS-REx sample site selection.




Apr 15, 2019

The mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase operations continue. Each week during this phase the spacecraft executes a flyby of Bennu at a different observing angle.

On April 11 and 12, the spacecraft performed Flyby 6, which mirrored Flyby 5’s operations but with the hemispheres reversed. For Flyby 5, the spacecraft flew north-to-south, and then reversed directions (an unusual operation in spaceflight, given the microgravity environment around Bennu)  for a south-to-north pass for Flyby 6.

During Flyby 6, the spacecraft observed Bennu with PolyCam, OLA and OTES at the 12:30 pm local solar time position. The pass was divided into two phases – A and B. Flyby 6A occurred over Bennu’s southern hemisphere at a distance of 5 km, and the spacecraft slewed east, west and straight down to image every 12° of Bennu’s rotation. Flyby 6B occurred over Bennu’s northern hemisphere at a distance of 3.06 km, and the spacecraft slewed east to image every 6° of Bennu’s rotation. These observations support the development of the 35-cm Stereo Photoclinometry (SPC) and 75-cm OLA shape models, the production of global image mosaics and the identification and cataloging of features for Natural Feature Tracking (NFT).

 




Apr 08, 2019

The spacecraft continues Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase operation. Each week during this phase the spacecraft executes a flyby of Bennu at a different observing angle.

On April 4 and 5, the spacecraft performed Flyby 5, during which it observed Bennu with PolyCam, OLA and OTES at the 12:30 pm local solar time position. The pass was divided into two phases – A and B. Flyby 5A occurred over Bennu’s northern hemisphere at a distance of 5 km, and the spacecraft slewed east, west and straight down to image every 12° of Bennu’s rotation. Flyby 5B occurred over Bennu’s southern hemisphere at a distance of 3.06 km, and the spacecraft slewed west to image every 6° of Bennu’s rotation. These observations support the development of the 35-cm Stereo Photoclinometry (SPC) and 75-cm OLA shape models, the production of global image mosaics and the identification and cataloging of features for Natural Feature Tracking (NFT).

 




Apr 01, 2019

The spacecraft continues with operations for the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase. Each week during this phase the spacecraft executes a flyby of Bennu at a different observing angle. On March 28 and 29, the spacecraft performed Flyby 4, during which it observed Bennu with PolyCam, OLA and OTES at the 10 am local solar time position, from a distance of 3.7 km.

Due to severe winter weather conditions throughout Colorado on March 13, the facility where mission operations are conducted was closed for safety. Due to this emergency closure, a planned update to the spacecraft pointing could not be processed and uplinked. Consequently, the mission missed MapCam observations above approximately 20º north latitude on Bennu during Flyby 2. The team will evaluate whether there is a need to plan for additional observations in the future in order to meet science requirements. This decision will be made after assessing Flyby 7, which is scheduled for execution on April 18 and includes MapCam observations above Bennu’s 20ºN.




Mar 22, 2019

OSIRIS-REx continues operations in the mission’s Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase, which comprises a total of seven pole-to-pole flybys of Bennu. On Mar. 16 the spacecraft successfully executed the M5D maneuver to position itself at the starting point of the third observation leg, and on Mar. 19, it executed the M6D maneuver to begin the third flyby. During this leg, the spacecraft observed Bennu from the 10:00 am local solar time position from a distance of 3.7 km. Both the PolyCam camera and the OTES spectrometer took observations during the pass.




Mar 11, 2019

The spacecraft is now operating successfully in the Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond Phase. Each week during this phase the spacecraft will execute a flyby of Bennu at a different observing angle in order to fully map the asteroid. On March 5, the spacecraft executed the M2D maneuver to commence the first observation leg, a flyby at a local solar time of 12:30 pm and a closest approach distance of 5 km. Both the PolyCam camera and the OTES spectrometer were both on and took observations during this pass of Bennu.




Mar 04, 2019

On Feb. 28, shortly after completing its 23rd orbit of Bennu, the spacecraft executed a departure maneuver (M0D) to exit orbit and fly to a point 7 km from Bennu. Later this week, the spacecraft will begin the series of 3 – 5 km flybys of Bennu that comprise the Detailed Survey mission phase.

This last week the following science instruments took observations of Bennu: OCAMS, OLA, OTES, and REXIS.




Feb 25, 2019

OSIRIS-REx continues to orbit Bennu at an altitude ranging from 1.6 to 2.1 km, with an orbital period of ~62 hours. This last week, both the OLA altimeter and the MapCam camera made observations of Bennu from orbit.

On Feb. 21, the mission team gathered to watch JAXA’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft execute its first sample collection activity at asteroid Ryugu. The OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa-2 teams are working closely together on the two asteroid sample return missions, and the OSIRIS-REx team cheered the Japanese announcement that their attempt appeared to be a success.




Feb 18, 2019

This last week, the spacecraft continued orbiting Bennu as part of the mission’s Orbital A phase. The OLA instrument executed a linear scan over the majority of Bennu’s northern hemisphere on Feb. 13. OLA took a single 5 ½ hr scan and received 1.82 million measurements of Bennu.

The mission team is currently in the midst of the biannual checkouts and calibrations of the spacecraft’s systems. So far, TAGCAMS, GNC LIDAR-1 and-2 and REXIS have all been successfully exercised. The checkouts also provided REXIS with the first opportunity to observe Bennu. REXIS science operations are scheduled to begin this summer.




Feb 11, 2019

Several times since NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft entered orbit around its target asteroid Bennu on Dec. 31, 2018, the OSIRIS-REx team detected multiple, bright, point sources near Bennu in the optical navigation (OpNav) images obtained by the spacecraft’s NavCam 1 imager. The science team is currently investigating the exact cause of this phenomenon, but it is probable that these images record a number of small particles near the asteroid.

The mission team’s initial analysis determined that the particles do not pose a significant risk to the spacecraft in its current orbit, which is between 1 and 1.3 miles (1.6 and 2.1 km) from Bennu. The team will continue to study the particles and their sources. After the initial detection, the team increased the cadence of OpNav observations to better study the environment around Bennu and monitor for additional occurrences.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to leave its current orbit on Feb. 28, when it will begin the mission’s Sample Site Selection campaign. During this next mission phase, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will make a series of flybys of Bennu at a distance of around 2 miles (3 km) to start mapping the asteroid in detail.




Feb 04, 2019

The spacecraft continues to orbit Bennu at an altitude ranging from 1.6 to 2.1 km. As of today, the spacecraft has been orbiting the asteroid for 32 days and is in the midst of completing its 12th orbit. It is notable that the team has been able to waive all of the weekly opportunities to trim the orbit since insertion on Dec. 31. The fact that the orbit has not needed adjustment is reflective of the flight dynamics high fidelity modeling and the excellent maneuver performance of the spacecraft.

On the ground, mission leadership has given the go-ahead to proceed to the next mission phase as scheduled. Detailed Survey: Baseball Diamond phase will commence with a small spacecraft maneuver on Feb. 28. This transition marks the end of the Navigation Campaign and the beginning of the Site Selection Campaign. The primary objective of the SSC is to globally map Bennu to identify two potential sample sites for detailed characterization.




Jan 28, 2019

The spacecraft continues in orbit around Bennu and has completed 10 orbits so far. The spacecraft takes approximately 62 hours to complete one orbit at a speed of 5 cm/sec.

On the ground, the mission team continues to map and analyze Bennu with the primary goal of selecting a site for the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event (currently scheduled for 2020). This last week, the mission held a full-project TAG Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) to discuss the current TAG design, possible design changes due to data gathered from Bennu since Arrival, and future refinements to the TAG plan.




Jan 21, 2019

This past week, the spacecraft continued orbiting Bennu as part of the Orbital A navigation campaign, traveling around 5 cm/sec (relative to the asteroid). This phase was designed to provide the mission team with experience navigating in close proximity to a small body, and as such, there are no science requirements. The only Bennu observations being taken during Orbital A phase are optical navigation (OpNav) images using the NavCam1 camera. Orbital A continues through mid-February.

This week, the navigation team was able to officially cancel trim burn maneuvers through Feb. 9 due to the sustained performance of the spacecraft’s trajectory implemented during the Dec. 31 orbital insertion.




Jan 14, 2019

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to orbit Bennu at an altitude ranging from 1.6 to 2.1 km, with an orbital period of 61 hours. The spacecraft has completed 5.5 orbits of Bennu to date. The one-way communication time from the spacecraft back to Earth is around 5.5 minutes.

On the ground, the mission held its 14th Science Team Meeting at the University of Arizona last week. This was the first science team meeting since the spacecraft’s arrival at the asteroid, which means it was also the first gathering where the entire science team was able to work with detailed Bennu data from the spacecraft.




Jan 07, 2019

On Dec. 29 and 31, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed the two maneuvers required to enter orbit about Bennu. The accurate performance of these orbit insertion maneuvers, as well as the continued accurate navigation performance since orbit insertion, allowed for the wave-off of several planned updates to the spacecraft’s orbit determination (OD). The mission’s navigation team will continue to study OD performance over the first few weeks of spacecraft orbits to further refine and predict orbital operations – which will eventually allow the team to reduce the trim burn schedule.

The first orbit of Bennu, which started on Dec. 31, ended 61.4 hours later on Jan. 3. The spacecraft will continue orbiting the asteroid through mid-February.




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