NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft gets extra time to prepare for it long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu

The spacecraft will attempt its first sample collection on 20 October and is equipped to do it three times if necessary.


NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is all set for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The first sample collecting attempt is expected on 20 October.

Speaking about the mission, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, has said that the OSIRIS-REx has highlighted the core essence of exploration by persevering through unexpected challenges.

“That spirit has led them to the cusp of the prize we all are waiting for – securing a sample of an asteroid to bring home to Earth, and I’m very excited to follow them through the home stretch,” Zurbuchen said.

 NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft gets extra time to prepare for it long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu

This illustration shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Image Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

NASA lists OSIRIS-REx's achievements as discovering Bennu’s rugged and active surface and entering the closest-ever orbit around a planetary body. Last month, the mission brought the spacecraft 213 feet from the asteroid’s surface as part of its first sample collection rehearsal.

According to a report in CNET, the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection drive will see OSIRIS-REx contacting the asteroid Bennu for five seconds. The spacecraft will fire off a charge to shake up the surface of the celestial body and then collect a sample before backing away to safety.

While the spacecraft is equipped to do it three times if necessary, NASA hopes it will be successful in the first attempt itself.

NASA says due to the COVID-19 constraints and after the intense preparation for the first rehearsal, the OSIRIS-REx mission has decided to give its team some additional time to prepare for the final rehearsal and the sample collection event. Subsequently, the second rehearsal and first sample collection attempt will get two extra months for planning.


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