How OSIRIS-REx will Steer Itself to Sample an Asteroid

  • Released Monday, March 9, 2020
  • Updated Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 4:24PM
  • ID: 13555

In late October, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will navigate to asteroid Bennu’s surface for its first sample collection attempt. To do this, it will use an onboard image software known as Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) – a form of optical navigation that is completely autonomous. NFT guides the spacecraft by comparing an onboard image catalog with the real-time navigation images it takes during descent, looking for specific landmarks on Bennu’s surface in order to orient itself. This navigation technique allows the spacecraft to accurately target small sites while dodging potential hazards.


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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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