Aug 13, 2018
This last week, the mission team ran a checkout of the spacecraft’s two GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) LIDAR systems. These sensors are designed to provide navigational information while the spacecraft is operating in close proximity to the asteroid, in particular during the TAG sampling maneuver. The LIDAR system calculates the distance to Bennu by bouncing laser pulses off Bennu’s surface and measuring the time it takes for the light to return to the detector. Because there were no targets in the vicinity to bounce the laser off during the test, this LIDAR checkout solely focused on system outputs. Preliminary results indicate that the checkouts executed as expected.
The mission team also spent this last week preparing for the kick-off of asteroid operations, which is scheduled to occur on Aug. 17 when the spacecraft’s OCAMS camera takes its first image of Bennu.