Space Micromanagement: OSIRIS-REx changed its speed by 3 millimeters

On September 17, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft activated its engines for the last time before meeting the Earth. During this maneuver, it changed its speed by 3 millimeters per second.

OSIRIS-REx on the background of the Earth (concept). Source: NASA

This is not a mistake. The spacecraft really changed its speed by only 3 millimeters per second. But, although such a figure seems insignificant and does not exceed the size of the statistical inaccuracy, do not forget about the factor of cosmic distances. In the few days that the spacecraft has left to reach our planet, these millimeters will add up to kilometers.

In this case, the maneuver was required to target the capsule as accurately as possible, which would separate from the OSIRIS-REx. The aiming point was an area measuring 58 km by 14 km, located on the territory of a training and testing site in Utah. The maneuver shifted the intended landing site of the capsule by 12.5 km to the center of the calculated zone.

The separation of the capsule will take place on September 24, when the spacecraft will be located at a distance of 102 thousand km from our planet. Four hours after separation, it will enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and if everything goes well, it will be picked up by NASA specialists. Inside the capsule are samples of the substance of the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx studied this small body in the period from December 2018 to May 2021.

As for the OSIRIS-REx, 20 minutes after the capsule separation, the spacecraft activates the engines to “turn away” from the Earth. Next, it will fly at a distance of 780 km from the earth’s surface and go into interplanetary space. Its next target will be the asteroid Apophis. In April 2029, OSIRIS-REx will get closer to it, after which it will study the small body for the next 18 months.

According to

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