During Reconnaissance B phase, the OSIRIS-REx 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 near the end of January, with one full day dedicated to science activities. The team will then observe site Osprey for one full day 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.
Recon B phase is scheduled through the end of February, after which the mission will transition to Reconnaissance C phase. During Recon C, the spacecraft will perform even lower-altitude flyovers of sites Nightingale and Osprey.