Nov 02, 2020
This week, OSIRIS-REx successfully sealed the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) and completed stowing its abundant sample of asteroid Bennu on Oct. 28.
The stowage process, originally scheduled to begin in early November, was expedited after the spacecraft collected a plentiful sample of Bennu’s surface material on Oct. 20. On Oct. 22, the mission team received images that showed the spacecraft’s collector head overflowing with material. The images indicated that the spacecraft collected well over two-ounces (60-grams) of Bennu’s surface material, and that some of these particles appeared to be slowly escaping from the head. Bits of material appeared to be passing through small gaps where a mylar flap – the collector’s “lid” – is slightly wedged open by larger rocks. Now that the head is sealed inside the SRC, pieces of the sample will no longer be lost.
The OSIRIS-REx team will now focus on preparing the spacecraft for the next phase of the mission – Earth Return Cruise. The departure window opens in March 2021 for OSIRIS-REx to begin its voyage home, and the spacecraft will deliver the SRC to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.