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.