NASA has selected the OSIRIS-REx mission as the next New Frontiers mission, and the Planetary Society is excited to announce that it will be involved with many public outreach activities connected with the mission.
A comparison of two images taken by StowCam on September 22, 2016 and March 2, 2017 shows the mark of a tiny impactor having struck the sample return capsule's heat shield some time in the intervening six months. A detail is shown inset at upper left.
This image of the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule (SRC) was taken on March 2, 2017, by the spacecraft’s StowCam imager as part of a visual checkout of the SRC conducted six months after launch. A small, dark spot is visible on the surface of the SRC that was not present during the checkout images taken after launch in 2016. Subsequent analysis has shown that this spot is an indentation approximately 2 mm across – the size of a poppy seed – that may have been caused by a particle hitting the SRC during flight. The SRC is the capsule on the spacecraft that will securely stow the sample of asteroid Bennu once it is collected, and it will ultimately detach from the spacecraft and land under parachutes in the Utah desert in 2023. The indentation visible in the image is located on the SRC’s ablative heat shield, which was designed to withstand being hit by particles and the high-speed entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. After further investigation, it was determined that the indentation will not affect the SRC’s performance.
This color composite image of Earth and the Moon was taken October 2, 2017, 10 days after OSIRIS-REx performed its Earth Gravity Assist maneuver, using MapCam, the mid-range scientific camera onboard the spacecraft. The distance to Earth was approximately 5,120,000 km—about 13 times the distance between the Earth and Moon.
OSIRIS-REx took the data for this image of the Moon on September 25, 2017, at a distance of 1.2 million kilometers, three days after the spacecraft's Earth flyby. The image looks slightly blurry because it has been enlarged by a factor of two from the original resolution of the data. We see predominantly lunar farside terrain, with Tsiolkovskiy crater at lower right and Mare Moscoviense at upper right. On the center left is the round Mare Crisium.
This black-and-white image of the Earth-Moon system was captured on September 25, 2017 by the wide-angle NavCam 1 on OSIRIS-REx. At the time this image was taken, the spacecraft was retreating from Earth after performing an Earth Gravity Assist maneuver on September 22. Earth and the Moon are 401,200 kilometers apart, and the spacecraft is 1,297,000 kilometers from Earth and 1,185,000 kilometers from the Moon.
This image was taken from a range of 110,000 kilometers, following the September 22, 2017 Earth Gravity Assist flyby. It was captured by NavCam 1, a wide-angle black-and-white imager that is one of three cameras comprising TAGCAMS (the Touch-and-Go Camera System), which is part of OSIRIS-REx’s guidance, navigation, and control system. NavCam images will track starfields and landmarks on Bennu to determine the spacecraft position during mission operations. It has been cropped and rotated so that Earth’s north pole is located at the top. The Baja Peninsula is visible above and to the right of center. Cloud cover and the Pacific Ocean dominate most of the image, but Hurricane Maria and the remnants of Hurricane Jose can be seen in the far upper-right portion of the image, off the east coast of the United States.
OSIRIS-REx flew past Earth on September 22, 2017 and took this photo shortly after. The Pacific Ocean covers nearly the entire visible globe. The Sun is nearly behind the spacecraft, and a bright area on the ocean near the center of the view is specular reflection from the watery surface. The image is a composite of three photos taken through infrared, green, and blue filters. The infrared filter causes land that would appear green to appear red. "Icicles" at the top are caused by detector read-out register bleed-through, which occurs at the very short exposure times required for a close-up view of a bright planet.
On Feb. 12, 2017, OSIRIS-REx’s PolyCam imager captured this image of Jupiter (center) and three of its moons, Callisto (left), Io, and Ganymede. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 122 million kilometers from Earth and 673 million kilometers from Jupiter.
On September 22, 2016, two weeks after launch, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft switched on the Touch and Go Camera System (TAGCAMS) to demonstrate proper operation in space. This image of the spacecraft was captured by the StowCam portion of the system when it was 6.17 million kilometers away from Earth and traveling at a speed of 30 kilometers per second around the Sun. Visible in the lower left hand side of the image is the radiator and sun shade for another instrument (SamCam) onboard the spacecraft. Featured prominently in the center of the image is the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), showing that our asteroid sample’s ride back to Earth in 2023 is in perfect condition. In the upper left and upper right portions of the image are views of deep space. No stars are visible due to the bright illumination provided by the sun.
What is an asteroid and how much is science fact and how much science fiction? OSIRIS-REx presents the first 321Science video about asteroids. This video looks at asteroids in popular culture to explore how much is fact and how much is fiction.
The naming contest for the near Earth asteroid currently named (101955) 1999 RQ36 is a partnership of the Planetary Society; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, the discoverers of (101955) 1999 RQ36; and the University of Arizona, who under principal investigator Dante Lauretta was chosen by NASA to lead the OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) asteroid sample return mission.
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