Washington – After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Origin, Spectral Description, Resource Identification, Security, and the Recolith Explorer (OSIRIRS-Rex) spacecraft return to Earth with numerous rocks and dust Asteroid close to Earth Determining.
At 4:23 pm on Monday, May 10, the EDT spacecraft fired its main engines at full speed for seven minutes – its most important maneuver since arriving at Penn in 2018. The burning spacecraft was pushed from the meteorite at a speed of 600 miles per hour (approximately 1,000 kilometers per hour), setting it on a 2.5-year journey toward Earth.
After the release of the sample capsule, OSIRIS-REx will have completed its primary mission. It shoots its engines to fly safely through the earth, placing it in a path to orbit the sun inside Venus’ orbit.
After orbiting the Sun twice, the OSIRIRS-Rex spacecraft is scheduled to reach Earth on September 24, 2023. Upon return, the capsule containing fragments of the pennon separates from the other spacecraft and enters the Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule will parachute into the Utah test and training range in the western desert of Utah, waiting for scientists to recover it.
“Many of Osiris-Rex’s achievements demonstrate a bold and innovative way of exploring in real time,” said Thomas Surbuchen, associate executive for science at NASA headquarters. “The team has risen to the challenge, and now we have a primitive part of our solar system back to Earth where many generations of researchers can unravel its secrets.”
To realize the mission’s multi-year plan, a dozen navigation engineers made calculations and wrote computer code to instruct the spacecraft on when and how to push itself off the pen. After departing from Penn, the team’s next important goal is to get the model safely to Earth. This includes planning future maneuvers to keep the spacecraft throughout its voyage.
“Our whole mindset is, ‘Where are we in space compared to Penn?’ ‘Said OSIRIRS-Rex Deputy Project Manager Mike Morey. Of NASA Goddard Space Aviation Center in Green Belt, Maryland. “Now our mindset has changed to‘ where is it ’ Spacecraft In relation to the earth? ‘”
Navigation cameras that help divert the spacecraft in relation to the pen were turned off on April 9, after taking last pictures of the asteroid. With the pen in the rearview mirror, the engineers guide OSIRIS-REx by sending radio signals using NASA’s deep space network of space communications facilities. By measuring the frequency of the return waves from the spacecraft transponder, engineers can tell how fast OSIRIS-REx is moving. Engineers measure how long it takes for radio signals to return to Earth from spacecraft to determine its location.
Exceeding mission expectations
The May 10 departure date was precisely determined by the time Penn merged with Earth. The goal of the return maneuver is to reach the spacecraft by September 2023, about 6,000 miles (approximately 10,000 kilometers) from Earth. Although Osiris-Rex still has plenty of fuel, the team is trying to protect as much as possible of the extended mission to another asteroid after returning the model capsule to Earth. The team will explore the possibilities of such work this summer.
The course of the spacecraft will be determined mainly by the gravitational force of the sun, but engineers will occasionally have to make minor course changes via mechanical burns.
“We need to make regular adjustments to bring the path to sample output higher into the Earth’s atmosphere and to avoid minor errors that may have accumulated since the last burn,” said Peter Andresion, OSIRIS-REx navigation lead in KinetX space. It is located in the Simi Valley of California.
In order to accurately target the location and angle of release of the sample capsule into the Earth’s atmosphere, the team will definitely make changes a few weeks before Earth re-entry. At the very least the capsule may come out of the atmosphere like a pebble from a lake; The capsule may burn due to friction and heat from the atmosphere. If the OSIRIS-REx capsule fails to be released, the team has a backup plan to redirect it from Earth and try again in 2025.
“There’s a lot of emotion within the team about leaving,” Morey said. “I think everyone has a great achievement because we faced these daunting tasks and were able to accomplish all the objectives thrown at us. But there is also some nostalgia and disappointment that part of this mission is coming to an end.”
OSIRIS-REx exceeded many expectations. Most recently, in the midst of a global epidemic, the team carried out the mission’s vital function flawlessly, collecting 2 ounces (60 grams) of soil from the surface of the pen.
Led to the sample collection, many surprises kept the team at its toes. For example, on December 31, 2018, a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Penn, the team realized that the asteroid was releasing small rocks into space.
“We had to fight to make sure that the small particles emitted from the surface did not pose a danger to the spacecraft,” Morey said.
When the asteroid arrived, the team members were surprised to find that the pen was scattered by rocks.
“We had the idea that we were coming to an asteroid with open real estate,” said Heather Enos, deputy principal investigator at OSIRIRS-Rex, based at the University of Arizona in Duson. “The truth was a big shock.”
To deal with the intense and unpredictable roughness of Pennu’s surface, engineers had to quickly develop a more precise navigation technique to target smaller sites than expected for sample collection.
The OSIRIS-REx mission was instrumental in confirming and refuting many scientific discoveries. Among those confirmed, an asteroid using observations from Earth was said to be carbon-rich and show signs of ancient water. One discovery that proved to be a failure was that the pen had a smooth surface, which scientists predicted by measuring how much heat escapes from its surface.
Scientists will use data collected from the pen to refine theoretical models and improve future predictions.
“This work emphasizes why we need to do science and research in so many ways – from those closest to Earth and in space – because the assumptions and models are the same,” Enos said.
Godard provides overall work management, systems engineering and security and work warranty for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Loretta of the University of Arizona, Duson, is the principal researcher. The University Science Committee and Mission oversees the scientific monitoring planning and data processing. Builds Lockheed Martin space shuttle in Littleton, Colorado and provides flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for guiding the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Osiris-Rex is the third mission of NASA’s New Frontiers program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for Washington, the company’s science mission directorate.