Close-up images of the OSIRIS-REx sample site candidates on asteroid Bennu.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission announced its primary and backup sample collection sites on asteroid Bennu, at a press conference hosted during AGU’s Fall Meeting at 2 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 12.
The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft launched on Sept. 8, 2016, and arrived at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3, 2018. In mid-2020, it will briefly touch down on Bennu’s surface and collect a sample for return to Earth in late 2023.
The mission represents a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, and the hazards and resources in near-Earth space.
The briefing participants are:
Lori Glaze, director of planetary science for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters
Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson
Dani DellaGiustina, OSIRIS-REx image processing lead scientist at the University of Arizona, Tucson
Mike Moreau, OSIRIS-REx deputy project manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
4. DellaGiustina - The "sampleability" map for Sites Nightingale and Osprey, showing the location of sampleable material at each site. Blue regions correspond to high sampleability, while red regions correspond to low sampleability.
2. Moreau - Size comparison of the planned sample collection safe zone before arriving at Bennu (orange), and after arriving at Bennu (blue). The safe zone for Site Nightingale is no wider than a few parking spaces.
3. Moreau - This image shows sample site Nightingale overlaid with a simplified hazard map. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft uses this map to autonomously detect surface hazards, such as boulders or rocks, while it descends to collect a sample. The green illustrates areas that are free of hazards, and means the spacecraft will continue to the surface. Yellow demonstrates cautionary areas, and red areas contain the most hazards. If the spacecraft predicts it will touch either a yellow or red area, it will stop its descent and back away.