NASA aims the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Earth

On July 26, the specialists of the OSIRIS-REx mission support group activated the spacecraft’s engines. This maneuver sent it to meet the Earth.

OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016 to study the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft examined the small body for several years, making a detailed map of its surface, as well as taking a soil sample. In 2021, OSIRIS-REx left Bennu and headed for Earth.

Currently, the spacecraft is located at a distance of 38.6 million km from the Earth, moving at a speed of 9.7 km/s relative to it. The flight plan assumes that on September 24, OSIRIS-REx will drop a capsule with samples of asteroid matter, after which it will enter the earth’s atmosphere and land on the Utah Test and Training Range.

This is a very difficult operation that will require jewelry execution. In preparation for it, on July 26, OSIRIS-REx activated the engines for 63 seconds, changing its orbital speed by 2 km/h. Despite the seeming insignificance, this is enough to guarantee that on September 24, the spacecraft will meet the Earth.

In the near future, engineers are going to study telemetry and radar data to confirm that OSIRIS-REx successfully performed the maneuver. On September 10 and 17, the spacecraft will perform two additional maneuvers that are necessary for its targeting into a narrow corridor that will ensure the capsule is dropped over the desired point of the Earth.

Training to find the OSIRIS-REx capsule. Source: NASA/Keegan Barber

In addition to conducting maneuvers, NASA is also actively preparing to receive samples. Recently, mission specialists conducted training in Utah, having worked out the search for the OSIRIS-REx capsule and its subsequent transportation.

Earlier we talked about how the Queen guitarist presented a 3D atlas of the asteroid Bennu.

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