Reconnaissance A Phase


During Reconnaissance A phase, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will perform a month-long series of four flyovers – one for each potential sample collection site. Each flyover takes one week, with one full day dedicated to science observations. The remainder of the time will be spent navigating to and from the various sites. Site Sandpiper will be observed first, followed by site Osprey and then site Kingfisher. Observations for this phase will conclude with site Nightingale. The spacecraft will be approximately 0.6 miles (1 km) from asteroid Bennu’s surface while performing Recon A observations.

A primary goal of this mission phase is to assess which sites are best suited for sample collection by thoroughly examining the sampleability, topography, albedo, and color of each site. Another goal of Recon A is to begin calibrating the Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) autonomous navigation system, which is planned to be used for navigating to the asteroid’s surface during the sample collection event.

Reconnaissance A phase is scheduled through the end of October, after which the spacecraft will transition to a frozen orbit approximately 0.8 miles (1.3 km) from Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft will remain in this orbit until Reconnaissance B phase, which is scheduled for early January.