NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sampling Mission

Holy Cow! NASA To Send OSIRIS-REx Satellite To Sample An Asteroid.

On August 20, 2016 media was invited out to Kennedy Space Center to photograph the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and to interview a few of the mission leaders at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. Below you can see the spacecraft inside the PHSF before it was encapsulated and prepared for the launch in 360° views. Use a VR headset for the best experience.

The launch will take place on September 8, 2016 aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket in the 411 configuration. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will then survey Bennu, map it, and finally get close enough to actually collect some samples from the surface. If all goes as planned the OSIRIS-REx will return in September of 2023 with up to 4.4 pounds of the asteroid Bennu


Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

Follow this link to view the above 360° spherical panoramic full screen.

 

What does OSIRIS-REx stand for?

OSIRIS-REx is an acronym that incorporates the mission’s major concepts and goals.  When the mission was first being formed, then-Deputy Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta was working to define the science investigation for an asteroid sample return mission.  In writing out a list of the big ideas that the science plan would be based on, Dr. Lauretta realized that they spelled out OSIRIS.

  • O – Origins: Return and analyze a sample of a pristine carbon-rich asteroid to study the nature, history, and distribution of its mineral and organic material.
  • SI – Spectral Interpretation: Define the global properties of a primitive carbon rich asteroid to allow for direct comparison with existing ground-based telescopic data for all asteroids.
  • RI – Resource IndentificationMap the global properties, chemistry, mineralogy of a primitive carbon-rich asteroid to define its geologic and dynamic history and provide context for the returned sample.
  • S – SecurityMeasure the Yarkovsky Effect* on a potentially hazardous asteroid and learn which asteroid properties contribute to this effect.
    *A force caused by the emission of heat from a rotating asteroid that can change its orbit over time
  • REx – Regolith ExplorerDocument the texture, morphology, geochemistry, and spectral properties of the regolith (surface material) at the sampling site.

 

The mythology of the Egyptian god Osiris loosely parallels the OSIRIS-REx mission. Osiris, in his original form, was believed to to have spread an understanding of agriculture throughout the Nile Delta, hence bringing life to the ancient world. Likewise, OSIRIS-REx seeks to return samples of an asteroid that may contain organics that led to the origin of life on Earth.  Osiris also had a dual role as the god of the Underworld, which mirrors the destruction that large asteroid impacts have created.

 

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