TAGSAM Head During Sample Imaging

Captured on Oct. 22, this series of three images shows that the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) sampling head on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is full of rocks and dust collected from asteroid Bennu, as well as the fact that some of these particles are escaping the sampler head. Analysis by the OSIRIS-REx team suggests that bits of material are passing through small gaps where the head’s mylar flap is slightly wedged open. The mylar flap (the black bulge visible in the 9 o’clock position inside the ring) is designed to keep the collected material locked inside, and these unsealed areas appear to be caused by larger rocks that didn’t fully pass through the flap. Based on available imagery, the team suspects there is plentiful sample inside the head, and is on a path to stow the sample as quickly as possible.

The images were taken by the spacecraft’s SamCam camera as part of the sample verification procedure following the spacecraft’s Oct. 20 sample collection attempt. The TAGSAM system was developed by Lockheed Martin Space to acquire a sample of asteroid material in a low-gravity environment.

Date Taken: October 22, 2020

Instrument Used: OCAMS (SamCam)

Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona


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