Yesterday space probe OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer) was delivered onboard of C-17 Globemaster III from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver to Kennedy Space Center.
After arriving to Kennedy Space Center it was schedule to extract OSIRIS-REx from container today. Further tests in Kennedy Space Center will cover in following days: rotation fixture planned on 23rd May, 2016 and spin test planned for 24-25 May 2016. OSIRIS-REx is NASA mission dedicated for exploration of 101955 Bennu asteroid- gathering ground samples, returning to Earth and deploy returnable capsule with samples. Mission was planned and developed by University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory along with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Lockheed Martin Space Systems; start is planned for 8th September 2016 when OSIRIS-REx will be launched on atop of Atlas V (411). Plan of the mission is spectacular – after launch, probe will start its lasting two years journey to reach 101955 Bennu asteroid. Next it will perform rendez vous and keep distance of 5 km from asteroid. During next 505 days probe will take pictures and perform surface mapping of the Bennu; provided data will be analyzed in mission control system to choose best place for taking samples. Next probe will slowly approach to asteroid and will grab surface material with robotic arm. Gathering samples will be performed without landing and will last approximately for 5 seconds what will allow mining 90 g of probes. This method of possessing samples should help in avoiding problems during landing like crushing, tumbling or landing in place were radio signal will be lost (like problems during ESA Rosetta/Philae mission). In spite of gathering samples, probe will gather data on surface of carbonaceous asteroid: about minerals, geology and composition of the ground. It will also measure Yarkovsky effect which is basically force of the anisotropic emission of thermal photons and the value of which effects on rotating body in space.
OSIRIS-REx was manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It cuboid shape has length at 3 m with deployable solar arrays with surface of 8.5 square meters; arrays are recharging onboard lithium battery. Propulsion is fueled with hydrazine (1100 kg). Capsule which return to Earth (SRC-Sample Return Capsule) is located in the center of the spacecraft; it will be deployed during close passing near Earth when rest of the probe could start another mission. Downlink will be performed with utilization of dish antenna installed in the aft. Scientific payload are: OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) for mapping and high resolution imaging, OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) as LIDAR remote sensing device, OSIRIS-REx Visible and IR Spectrometer (OVIRS) for spectral surface mapping, Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) for creating spectroscopy map of Bennu. Main equipment will be the sample return system, called Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM). It utilizes robotic arm for gathering samples from Bennu surface able to gather for 5 seconds of contact with surface at least of 60 g of material.