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.