By Ashley Strickland | CNN
After orbiting the nearest planet Moon Bannu for nearly two years, NASA’s Osiris-RX spacecraft is ready to collect samples from the surface of the star planet on Tuesday to reach its robotic arm. This specimen will return to Earth in 2023.
A van-sized spacecraft has to touch its arm briefly at a landing site called Nightingale. The site is the width of some parking spaces. The arm will collect a sample between 2 bac and 2 kg before returning from safety.
“This is NASA’s first historic mission to return a planet, and it’s difficult,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate manager of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, told a news conference Monday.
The site itself is built inside a tennis court-sized graveyard and is enclosed in building-sized rocks.
Located more than 200 million miles from Earth, Benu is a stone-shaped standard with a spindle-like shape and as high as an empire state building. It is a group of “debris”, a group of rocks that are collected by gravity rather than a single object.
Mission – which means segmentation, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security-regolith explorer – was launched in September, 2016.
Since arriving in Benue, the spacecraft and its cameras have been assembled and sent back to help the team learn more about the ship’s structure and map out the best possible landing sites for sample collection.
The main event of the mission, called the Touch-and-Go Sampling Event, or TAG, begins on October 20 at 5 p.m.
Benu has a circle that brings it closer to the earth, hence it is considered to be the closest star to the earth. One approach to its future could bring it dangerously close to Earth at some point in the next century; It has 2,700 chances to affect our planet.
Benu’s specimens can help scientists understand not only the planets that can affect the Earth, but also how planets are formed and how life began.
“Benu is almost a rosta rock there, and it tells the history of our earth and solar system over the last billions of years,” Zurbuchen said. “Benu has presented a lot of challenges, but the team’s skills have enabled us to get there.”
What to expect
Instead of the so-called “seven-minute horror” of trying to land on the Perseverance Rover on Tuesday next year, expect “4.5 hours of mild anxiety”, according to Beth Buck, the mission’s program manager at the OSIRIS-RX team. Has been. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado.
During this time, the spacecraft will descend from its planet around the planet and eventually come close enough to touch it.
The planets and spacecraft are currently about 207 million miles from Earth, which will cause a communication delay of 18.5 minutes.
The NASA team will share animations on the mission’s Twitter account that show what is happening based on commands already sent for OSIRIS-Rex hours in order to collect the sample.
A live stream will begin at 5 pm ET on the NASA site sharing animations and insights from the mission team as they interpret the data they receive.
The spacecraft will complete the entire sequence of reaching the storm and collecting the sample itself as live commands from Earth may not be possible.
Touching down on a planet
The event will take about 4.5 hours to unfold and the spacecraft will make three moves to collect the specimen.
The spacecraft will first leave its safe circle around the storm to ignite the storm, which is about 2,500 feet above the surface and will travel four hours before reaching a distance of just 410 feet. Then, the spacecraft will adapt to keep decreasing position and speed.
Next, OSIRIS-RX will slow down its descent to target a path so it coincides with the rotation of the planet during contact. Its solar panels will be folded in a Y-wing configuration over the spacecraft to protect them.
Finally, the OSIRIS-REx will touch in less than 16 seconds. The spacecraft will throw a pressurized nitrogen bottle into the storm, which will use the gas to lift the material from the surface of the bean.
The astronaut collector’s head will capture the inflamed material. Located on an 11-foot-long robotic sampling arm, the head is the only part of the spacecraft that will touch Bennu. The team compares it to an air filter in an older model car, perfect for collecting fine materials.
Small discs, which can collect dust like sticky pads, are located on the head even if part of the sample exercise does not go according to plan.
After the ceremony
A camera on the spacecraft will collect footage of the event.
The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft will have to detect hazards and delay its mission if there are any obstacles in the way of sample collection. Based on its simulations, the team estimates that the spacecraft has a 6% chance of leaving the mission unfinished.
By Tuesday night, the team should be able to confirm if the touchdown happened successfully. Kalpana will be returned by the spacecraft on Wednesday, which will provide more details on the storage of the specimen and how the spacecraft is moving forward.
The team estimates they will have a large sample size on Saturday. By October 30, NASA will confirm that the spacecraft has collected enough samples, or if it is called Asprey at another landing site in January, an attempt needs to be made to collect samples.
But if all goes well, the spacecraft and its precious specimen will embark on a long journey to return to Earth next year and the specimen will land on Earth in 2023.