Mission Status

Oct 19, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx wrapped up final preparations for tomorrow’s Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event. On Oct. 13 and 17, the spacecraft performed the final phasing burns to fine tune its position for the orbit departure maneuver on TAG day, with the second maneuver being just 0.5 mm/s. Today, the mission team will uplink the final commands for the TAG event. The spacecraft will receive the official command for GO on Tuesday morning.

Where to follow along with the TAG event:

  • Tune into the NASA live show being broadcast from the Mission Support Area at 5 pm EDT.
  • Follow along on the mission’s Twitter account for live updates on the spacecraft’s activities starting at 1:45 pm EDT.
  • Watch a real-time animation here showing a simulation of the spacecraft’s activities throughout the TAG event starting at 1:20 pm EDT.



Oct 12, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued preparations for the Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event scheduled for Oct. 20. On Oct. 3, the spacecraft performed a Sample Mass Measurement (SMM) bake-out activity. This bake-out exposes the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) to the sun and rids it of any accumulated condensation in normally shaded areas. The release of this condensation imparts a small force on the spacecraft that can corrupt the measurement of the sample during the actual SMM, so the bake-out is an attempt to “clean up” usually shady regions of the SRC before the SMM activity.

The spacecraft performed its first SMM maneuver on Oct. 10. This spin maneuver was performed with an empty collector head. After the TAG event, the spacecraft will perform a second SMM with a full collector head. The team then calculates the difference in the moment of inertia between the two spins to determine the mass of the sample.

To execute each SMM, the spacecraft extends its sampling arm and engages its reaction wheels to reach and maintain a steady spin.




Sep 28, 2020

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft remains in a steady, safe-home orbit around Bennu. Navigation activities will continue to focus on positioning the spacecraft for the Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event on Oct. 20.

This week, the mission released a new science result, announcing that pieces of asteroid Vesta appear to be on the surface of asteroid Bennu. Read more about the discovery here.

Mission leaders also participated in the “Countdown to TAG” media briefing on Sep. 24. The discussion focused on the details of NASA’s first attempt to collect a sample from an asteroid. Recorded audio from the briefing can be downloaded here. Read more about the mechanics of TAG here.




Sep 08, 2020

OSIRIS-REx remains in a frozen, safe-home orbit around Bennu, and the spacecraft is flying approximately 900 meters above the asteroid’s surface. Today, OSIRIS-REx celebrates four years since launch. On September 8, 2016 the spacecraft departed from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and began its seven-year roundtrip journey. Today also marks exactly 6 weeks (42 days) until the mission’s first sample collection attempt on Oct. 20.




Aug 31, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx reentered orbit around asteroid Bennu. Over the past two weeks, the spacecraft has performed four separate maneuvers to navigate back towards Bennu. The final maneuver executed on Aug. 27, and placed OSIRIS-REx into its safe-home orbit. The spacecraft had previously left orbit in order to perform Matchpoint rehearsal and complete last week’s scheduled spacecraft maintenance activities. The next time OSIRIS-REx leaves orbit, it will be to collect a sample from site Nightingale on Oct. 20.




Aug 24, 2020

This week, the OSIRIS-REx mission team completed three days of scheduled spacecraft maintenance activities. The team uplinked commands on Aug. 17 for a reboot of the spacecraft’s processor in order to clear volatile memory between mission critical events (such as Matchpoint rehearsal and the Touch-And-Go sample collection event). The maintenance activities were successfully completed on Aug. 19, as the team reloaded products to volatile memory and promoted the spacecraft out of safe mode. Out of an abundance of caution, this activity was completed while the spacecraft was out of orbit and a safe distance from Bennu. Orbit reinsertion is planned for Aug. 27.




Aug 17, 2020

On Aug. 11, the OSIRIS-REx mission completed its second successful sample collection rehearsal, known as Matchpoint rehearsal. This was the mission’s final practice run before touching down on asteroid Bennu’s surface in October.

During the rehearsal, the spacecraft departed its 1-km safe-home orbit, and then performed the Checkpoint maneuver at an approximate altitude of 125 meters above Bennu’s surface. From there, the spacecraft continued to descend for another eight minutes to execute the Matchpoint burn approximately 54 meters above the asteroid. This was the first time the spacecraft executed the Matchpoint maneuver to then fly in tandem with Bennu’s rotation. After descending on this new trajectory for another three minutes, the spacecraft reached an altitude of approximately 40 meters – the closest the spacecraft has ever been to Bennu – and then performed a back-away burn to complete the rehearsal.

This rehearsal was also the first time that the spacecraft’s on-board hazard map was employed. The hazard map delineates small areas of the sample collection site that could potentially harm the spacecraft due to large, nearby rocks. A post-rehearsal analysis confirmed that the spacecraft’s trajectory and predicted touchdown would have successfully avoided surface hazards and allowed for a safe touchdown on sample site Nightingale.

As part of rehearsal activities, the spacecraft also deployed the TAGSAM arm from its folded, parked position out to the sample collection configuration. Some of the spacecraft’s instruments also collected science and navigation images and made spectrometry observations of the sample site, as will occur during the actual sample collection event.




Aug 10, 2020

This week, the OSIRIS-REx team uplinked all of the commands and products for the Matchpoint rehearsal on Aug. 11. The team waived this week’s scheduled orbit trim maneuver after determining that the spacecraft’s orbit remains in the proper bounds for the rehearsal’s orbit departure maneuver. Follow along on the mission’s twitter account for live updates during the Matchpoint rehearsal on Tuesday.




Aug 03, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued planning activities for Matchpoint rehearsal. On Jul. 25, the spacecraft conducted a Sample Mass Measurement (SMM) bake-out activity. During this maneuver, the spacecraft rotates as it will during the SMM activities, that are designed to measure the amount of sample collected after OSIRIS-REx touches the surface of Bennu. This bake-out is designed to expose the Sample Return Capsule to the sun to rid it of any accumulated condensate or frozen volatiles in areas of the SRC that are shaded during normal operations but exposed during the SMM. The release of such volatile material imparts a small force on the spacecraft that can corrupt the measurement of the sample during the actual SMM, so the bake-out is an attempt to “clean up” usually shady regions of the SRC before the SMM activity, similar to cleaning the dust under your sofa before important visitors come over. The SMM bake-out is the first activity leading into the second and final sample rehearsal on Aug. 11 where the spacecraft will descend to within approximately 40 m from Bennu’s surface.




Jul 27, 2020

OSIRIS-REx remains in an approximately 870 m frozen terminator orbit around Bennu. Since reentering orbit on Jul. 9, the spacecraft has completed approximately 11 orbits. The mission team continues to prepare for the upcoming Matchpoint Rehearsal, scheduled for Aug. 11.




Jul 13, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx reentered orbit around Bennu. The spacecraft executed an orbit insertion maneuver on Jul. 9, and it is now flying in a 1-km terminator orbit around the asteroid. The mission team continues to prepare for the upcoming Matchpoint Rehearsal, scheduled for Aug. 11. This second rehearsal of the sample collection event navigates the spacecraft down toward Bennu’s surface and sample site Nightingale. The spacecraft will execute all three maneuvers planned for the Touch-And-Go (TAG) sequence – orbit departure, checkpoint, and matchpoint – before performing a back-away maneuver at an altitude of approximately 40 meters. As the name suggests, the previously executed Checkpoint Rehearsal completed the first two of these maneuvers prior to backing away. These rehearsals allow the team to become familiar with the steps of the actual TAG event, as well as build confidence in the accuracy of OSIRIS-REx’s autonomous navigation.




Jul 06, 2020

This week, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed its 100th maneuver since entering flight operations nearly four years ago. This maneuver, which executed on Jun. 30, navigated the spacecraft toward Bennu in preparation for orbit reinsertion on Jul. 9. OSIRIS-REx had previously left orbit in order to complete last week’s scheduled spacecraft maintenance activities.




Jun 29, 2020

This week, the OSIRIS-REx mission team completed three days of scheduled spacecraft maintenance activities. The team uplinked commands on Jun. 22 for a reboot of the spacecraft’s processor in order to clear volatile memory between mission critical events (such as Checkpoint and Matchpoint rehearsals). The maintenance activities were successfully completed on Jun. 24, as the team reloaded products to volatile memory and promoted the spacecraft out of safe mode. Out of an abundance of caution, this activity was completed while the spacecraft was out of orbit and a safe distance from Bennu. Orbit reinsertion is planned for Jul. 9.




Jun 22, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. On Jun. 16, the spacecraft executed a phasing burn to adjust its position and velocity for an orbit departure maneuver, which was performed on Jun. 20. The team has navigated OSIRIS-REx away from Bennu in order to complete scheduled spacecraft maintenance activities. Currently, the spacecraft is 9.8 km from Bennu, and one-way light time is approximately 14 minutes.




Jun 15, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. The spacecraft remains in a 1-km safe-home orbit, and has completed approximately 13 orbits after performing the low-altitude flyover of backup site Osprey on May 26. Since arriving at the asteroid in December 2018, the spacecraft has completed a total of 276 orbits around Bennu.

The mission team continues to prepare for the upcoming Matchpoint Rehearsal, which is scheduled for Aug. 11.




Jun 08, 2020

The spacecraft is currently in a terminator orbit around Bennu – traveling approximately 1 km above the asteroid’s surface. The accuracy of the May 26 orbit recapture maneuver (R4R) – performed after the Recon C flyover of site Osprey – allowed the team to waive the two trim burns that were originally scheduled for this week. The spacecraft is circling Bennu clockwise (as viewed from the sun), and will remain in this orbit for the upcoming weeks.




Jun 01, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx successfully executed the 250-m flyover of site Osprey. This low-altitude pass was the closest the spacecraft has flown over the backup sample site.

On May 26, the spacecraft left its 0.6-mile (1-km) counterclockwise orbit (as viewed from the Sun) and aimed its science instruments toward the 52-ft (16-m) wide site. The science observations from this pass are the closest taken of Osprey to date. In March, the spacecraft executed a similar pass over primary sample site Nightingale.

High-resolution imagery from Osprey’s pass will aid the team in further assessing the presence of fine-grained, sampleable material. The flyover also provided the opportunity to capture images for the Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) image catalog for site Osprey – documenting the site’s surface features.

After completing the flyover, the spacecraft executed maneuver R4R to reenter orbit, and is now circling Bennu clockwise. The spacecraft normally orbits Bennu counterclockwise, but this shift in orbital direction was necessary to position the spacecraft for the second rehearsal of the sample collection sequence, which is scheduled for Aug. 11.




May 26, 2020

On May 20, the OSIRIS-REx mission officially announced that it has targeted Oct. 20 for its first sample collection attempt. Due to COVID-19 constraints and after the intense preparation for the first rehearsal, the OSIRIS-REx mission has decided to provide its team with an additional two months of preparation time this summer for both the final rehearsal and the sample collection event. The second rehearsal, formally known as Matchpoint, is now scheduled for Aug. 11. The mission remains on schedule to depart Bennu in mid-2021, and will return the sample to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023.

This week, the team also continued preparations for the Recon C flyover of backup sample site Osprey – scheduled for May 26. The spacecraft performed two phasing burns, R4P1 and R4P2, to adjust its position and velocity for the flyover’s orbit departure maneuver.




May 18, 2020

This week, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continued to fly a 1-kilometer safe-home orbit around Bennu. NavCam 1 collected 42 images per day to monitor for possible particle ejections. The mission team continues to prepare for the 250-meter Recon C flyover of backup sample site Osprey, which is scheduled for May 26.




May 11, 2020

The spacecraft is currently in a terminator orbit around Bennu – traveling 1 km above the asteroid’s surface. The accuracy of the orbit insertion maneuver (TR1R4) – performed on Apr. 30 – allowed the team to waive the two trim burns that were originally scheduled for next week.

Since launch in 2016, the spacecraft has traveled over 3 billion kilometers and the current one way light time is approximately 13 minutes.




May 04, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. On Apr. 28, the spacecraft performed TR1R3, the third of four maneuvers to return the spacecraft to orbit after the Checkpoint Rehearsal. The fourth and final maneuver, TR1R4, executed on Apr. 30 and placed the spacecraft into a frozen orbit around Bennu. The spacecraft will remain in its 1-km safe-home orbit until May 26, when it will perform the 250-meter Recon C flyover of backup sample site Osprey.




Apr 27, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. Following last week’s Checkpoint Rehearsal, the team uplinked preliminary commands to the spacecraft to prepare for orbit re-insertion, which is scheduled for Apr. 30. On Apr. 18, the spacecraft performed TR1R1, the first of four maneuvers to return the spacecraft to orbit. The second maneuver, TR1R2, executed on Apr. 25. The remaining two maneuvers are scheduled for next week.

The team is also preparing for the 250-meter Recon C flyover of backup sample collection site Osprey. The low-altitude flyover is scheduled for May 26, and will bring the spacecraft the closest it’s ever been to site Osprey. During this flyover, the spacecraft will perform the same activities it did during the Recon C flyover of site Nightingale. The spacecraft will depart orbit to arrive over site Osprey and perform science observations using the OCAMS, OTES, OVIRS, and OLA instruments from an altitude of approximately 250 meters.




Apr 20, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. On Apr. 14, the mission successfully executed the Checkpoint (CP) rehearsal – this was the first time the team and spacecraft rehearsed the initial steps of the sample collection sequence. During the rehearsal, the spacecraft departed its 1-km safe-home orbit, performed the Checkpoint maneuver and executed the back-away burn as expected. The Checkpoint maneuver is the first of two planned maneuvers during the final stage of the TAG sequence to establish and adjust the terminal descent trajectory targeting the Nightingale site. During this rehearsal the back-away burn executed as planned prior to the point in the trajectory where the second and final maneuver, the Matchpoint maneuver, will occur during TAG. It’s notable that this is the first time that the spacecraft has utilized its on-board Natural Feature Tracking system to update its trajectory estimate and adjust the CP maneuver to autonomously correct its course. That’s a huge first time event that executed flawlessly adding confidence to the performance of the flight system during this mission critical activity.

After performing the checkpoint burn at approximately 125 m above Bennu’s surface, the spacecraft descended to approximately 65 m, the lowest altitude it has ever reached, at which point it executed a back-away burn. As part of rehearsal activities, the spacecraft also deployed the TAGSAM arm from its folded, parked position out to the sample collection configuration. Some of the spacecraft’s instruments also collected science and navigation images and made spectrometry observations of the sample site, as will occur during the actual sample collection event.

Prior to the Checkpoint rehearsal on Apr. 11, the spacecraft performed a second phasing burn, TR1P2, to adjust its position and velocity for the rehearsal’s orbit departure maneuver. TR1P2 is now the smallest maneuver executed on the mission to-date at 0.115 mm/s.




Apr 13, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued TAG Rehearsal phase operations. In preparing for the Checkpoint Rehearsal on Apr. 14, the team uplinked the Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) image catalog to the spacecraft. During the rehearsal, the NFT navigation system will compare real-time images to the image catalog – allowing the spacecraft to autonomously estimate its position based on Bennu’s landmarks and make small adjustments to its maneuver plan as it descends towards the surface.

On Apr. 7, the spacecraft performed its first phasing burn (TR1P1), which adjusts its orbit so that the spacecraft is at the proper latitude and radius for orbit departure during the Checkpoint Rehearsal. The spacecraft fired its LTR-1 thruster to execute the TR1P1 burn, and imparted a velocity change (delta-v) of 0.47 mm/s – the smallest maneuver executed on the mission to-date.




Apr 06, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx entered the TAG Rehearsal mission phase. Over the next three weeks, the navigation team will determine whether any phasing burns need to be performed to properly position the spacecraft for the Orbit Departure Maneuver in advance of Checkpoint Rehearsal, which will take place on Apr. 14. Due to good agreement between the predicted and realized spacecraft position, the team has decided to waive the two trim maneuvers (TR1T3 and TR1T4) that were originally scheduled for this week.

The mission team also determined that it is not necessary to repeat the 620-meter Recon B flyover of backup sample site Osprey. Instead, they will fly a modified version of the originally scheduled 250-meter Recon C flyover for site Osprey in May.

Rock counting is now complete for site Nightingale. Using image data from the Recon C flyover, the team identified approximately 8,100 particles at the site that are smaller than 2 cm wide, and the smallest counted particles are around 0.4 cm wide. Additionally, nearly half the total area of the site contains material that cannot be resolved with Recon C imagery, potentially indicating the presence of particles smaller than 2 cm. This indicates that Nightingale contains sufficient material that is small enough for the spacecraft’s sample collection mechanism to ingest.




Mar 30, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance C phase operations. On Mar. 26, the spacecraft conducted a Sample Mass Measurement (SMM) bake-out activity. During this exercise, the spacecraft fired its ACS thrusters to perform a spin maneuver. This exercise was designed to expose all sides of the Sample Return Capsule’s (SRC) protective covering to the sun to rid it of any built-up moisture.

The spacecraft also reached perihelion this week, and is currently 0.9 AU from the sun. The spacecraft has traveled over 3 billion kilometers since launch. One-way light time from Earth is approximately 13 minutes.




Mar 23, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance C phase operations. The spacecraft is currently orbiting asteroid Bennu at a distance of approximately 872 meters with an orbital period of 20 hours.

In response to COVID-19, project leadership is prioritizing the safety of the team by maximizing remote work.

Mar. 17 marked 1,286 days in flight, which is the halfway point of the spacecraft’s journey in space. When the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) is delivered to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023, the spacecraft will have been in flight for 2,572 days.




Mar 16, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance C phase operations. On Mar. 10 and 12, the spacecraft executed two trim maneuvers, TR1T1 and TR1T2. These burns were designed to adjust the spacecraft’s orbit so that it will be at the proper latitude and radius for orbit departure during the upcoming Checkpoint Rehearsal. Checkpoint Rehearsal, scheduled for Apr. 14, navigates the spacecraft down to Bennu’s surface and toward the sample collection site. Once the spacecraft reaches an altitude of approximately 75 m, it will stop its descent and execute a maneuver to back away from the asteroid. The exercise is designed for both the team and the spacecraft to practice the first part of the sample collection event.

The spacecraft is now orbiting asteroid Bennu at a distance of approximately 882 meters.




Mar 09, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx successfully executed the 250-m flyover of site Nightingale as part of the mission’s Reconnaissance C phase activities. During this low-altitude pass, the spacecraft flew closer than ever to asteroid Bennu.

On Mar. 3, the spacecraft performed an orbit departure maneuver to break from its 1-km safe-home orbit. It then flew at a lower altitude over the asteroid to arrive above the Nightingale site, where it performed science observations using the OCAMS, OTES, OVIRS, and OLA instruments. Science observations taken during this flyover are the closest taken of a sample site to date and will aid the team in further assessing the presence of fine-grained, sampleable material. During the transit, the spacecraft traveled between 6.2 cm/s and 9.0 cm/s relative to Bennu, which is about the speed of a sloth.

After completing the flyover, the spacecraft executed maneuver R3R to reenter orbit. For the first time, OSIRIS-REx reversed the direction of its safe-home orbit and is now circling Bennu clockwise (as viewed from the Sun). This shift in orbital direction positioned the spacecraft for its next close encounter with the asteroid – its first rehearsal for the sample collection event, which is scheduled for Apr. 14.




Mar 02, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance C phase operations. The mission team spent the week preparing for the Nightingale site 250-meter flyover, scheduled for Mar. 3.

The mission has made the decision to use OLA’s High Energy Laser Transmitter (HELT) to provide the ranging data to focus PolyCam during the Mar. 3 flyover of site Nightingale. OLA consists of two laser subsystems, the HELT and the Low-Energy Laser Transmitter (LELT). OLA’s LELT was originally scheduled to provide these data, however, as a result of the anomaly  that occurred during the Recon B site Osprey flyover, the team has determined that the LELT system is no longer operable. Despite the LELT’s condition, the HELT system has continued to operate as expected, and will be used to focus PolyCam for the remaining reconnaissance passes.

OLA has already completed all of its principal requirements for the OSIRIS-REx mission. OLA’s scans of Bennu’s surface were used to create the high-resolution 3D global maps of Bennu’s topography that were crucial for selecting the primary and backup sample collection sites last fall.




Feb 24, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx entered Reconnaissance C phase operations. The spacecraft remains in its 1.2 km safe-home orbit. The precision of the orbit recapture maneuver (R2R) – performed on Feb. 12 – allowed the team to waive the three trim burns that were originally scheduled for this week.

The team is preparing for the Recon C flyover of site Nightingale. The low-altitude pass is scheduled for Mar. 3, during which the spacecraft will fly as close as 250 m over Nightingale and perform science observations in preparation for the sample collection event.




Feb 17, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx safely executed a 0.4-mile (620-m) flyover of the backup sample collection site Osprey as part of the mission’s Reconnaissance B phase activities.

Preliminary telemetry indicates that the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) did not operate as expected during the 11-hour event. On Feb. 11, before the spacecraft left its safe home orbit to perform the flyover, an issue occurred with OLA’s Low-Energy Laser Transmitter (LELT). Available data from the pass, however, shows that the LELT system did not fire during the flyover. As a result, the PolyCam images from the Osprey flyover are likely out of focus.

The team is currently reviewing the available data in order to fully assess the impact of the event, and will provide an update on the instrument when more information is available. OLA’s High Energy Laser Transmitter (HELT) is still operating nominally.

The other science instruments, including the MapCam imager, the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (OTES), and the OSIRIS-REx Visual and InfraRed Spectrometer (OVIRS), all performed nominally during the flyover. These instruments and the spacecraft continue in normal operations in orbit around asteroid Bennu.




Feb 10, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance B phase operations. The mission team spent the week preparing for the Osprey site 620-meter flyover, scheduled for Feb. 11. On Feb. 5 the spacecraft executed phasing maneuver R2P1, which slightly altered the spacecraft’s orbit in order to place it at the correct location and time for orbit departure. This departure will initiate the Osprey flyover.

On Feb. 4, the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) returned to normal operations after recovering from an instrument-level safe mode event. The spacecraft’s fault protection system automatically safed the instrument on Jan. 31 as a precaution when OLA did not respond to a routine aliveness check after completing a scan of Bennu’s surface. The team investigated OLA’s telemetry just prior to the instrument becoming unresponsive, which revealed no evidence of a health and safety concern. A recovery plan was implemented to return OLA to operations, and was completed on Feb. 4. The instrument has since completed the remainder of its scheduled scans as expected.




Feb 03, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance B phase operations. The spacecraft remains in its 1.2 km safe-home orbit. Because the orbit has proven to be so stable, both scheduled trim burns (R2T1 and R2T2) were waived.

The OSIRIS-REx team also confirmed that another major particle ejection event occurred on January 14. The event originated from Bennu’s southern hemisphere, and images show over 600 particles ejecting from the asteroid’s surface.




Jan 27, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx successfully executed the 620-m flyover of site Nightingale as part of the mission’s Reconnaissance B phase activities. On Jan. 21, the spacecraft performed an orbit departure maneuver to break from its safe-home orbit. It then flew at a lower altitude over the asteroid to arrive over the Nightingale site, where it performed science observations for 4 hours. After completing the flyover, the spacecraft executed a maneuver to reenter orbit on Jan. 22. During the transit, the spacecraft traveled between 6.2 cm/s and 9.0 cm/s relative to Bennu. Science observations taken during this flyover are the closest taken of a sample site to date and will aid the team in further assessing the presence of fine-grained, sampleable material.

Before departing orbit for the flyover, the spacecraft had been in a stable orbit around Bennu since Oct. 31, and completed approximately 56 orbits of the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx is now back in orbit and will remain there until the 620-m flyover of backup site Osprey, scheduled for Feb. 11.




Jan 21, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx continued Reconnaissance B phase operations. The mission team spent the week preparing for the Nightingale site 620-meter flyover, scheduled for Jan. 21. On Jan. 14 the spacecraft executed phasing maneuver R1P1, which was the smallest maneuver the spacecraft has performed to date. One of the Low Thrust Reaction Engine Assembly (LTR) thrusters – the smallest thrusters onboard – was used to move the spacecraft 3.7 mm/s. The maneuver itself lasted approximately 68 seconds. R1P1 slightly altered the spacecraft’s orbit in order to place it at the correct location and time for orbit departure. This departure will initiate the Nightingale flyover.




Jan 13, 2020

This week, OSIRIS-REx entered the Reconnaissance B mission phase. During this phase, the spacecraft will perform two flyovers – one for the primary sample collection site and another for the backup site. Beginning with site Nightingale, observations will take place on 21 January. The team will then observe site Osprey in February. The spacecraft will observe the two sample collection sites from an altitude of approximately 0.4 miles (625 m), which is closer than the previous Reconnaissance A flyovers (approximately 0.6 miles/1 km). When the spacecraft is not performing flyovers, it will spend its time orbiting Bennu at a distance of 0.75 miles (1.2 km).

A primary goal of this mission phase is to collect images from different angles that are required to complete the spacecraft’s Natural Feature Tracking image catalogue. The team will use these images to create a “footprint” of each site’s topographical makeup. During the sampling event, this footprint will inform the spacecraft of the surface features particular to the sample collection site so that it can accurately target Bennu’s surface.

The team also held an Operational Proficiency Integrated Exercise (OPIE) this week, which took place at Lockheed Martin Space. During the OPIE, the mission’s TAG Team ran through all of the activities involved in the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event in real time. The exercise also prepared the team for the two upcoming TAG rehearsals, which are scheduled to begin in spring.




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