Tuesday, November 13, 2018

OSIRIS-REx Executes Fourth Asteroid Approach Maneuver

Artist’s conception of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during a burn of its Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters. Credit: University of Arizona

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft executed its fourth Asteroid Approach Maneuver (AAM-4) yesterday. The spacecraft fired its Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters to slow the spacecraft from approximately 0.31 mph (0.14 m/sec) to 0.10 mph (0.04 m/sec). The ACS thrusters are capable of velocity changes as small as 0.02 mph (0.01 m/sec).

The mission team will continue to examine telemetry and tracking data over the next week to verify the new trajectory. The maneuver targeted the spacecraft to fly through a corridor designed for the collection of high-resolution images that will be used to build a shape model of Bennu.

With the execution of AAM-4, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft concludes a six-week series of Bennu approach maneuvers. AAM-1 and AAM-2, which executed on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 respectively, slowed the spacecraft by a total of approximately 1,088 mph (486 m/sec). AAM-3 and AAM-3A, which executed on Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 respectively, further refined the spacecraft’s trajectory and speed to set the conditions for a successful AAM-4 maneuver. 

After a final correction maneuver scheduled for Nov. 30, the spacecraft will be on track to arrive at a position 12 miles (20 km) from Bennu on Dec. 3.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft travels to a near-Earth asteroid, called Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36), to bring at least a 2.1-ounce sample back to Earth for study. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

Credit: NASA

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