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Raumfahrt - OSIRIS-REx - ASTEROID SAMPLE RETURN MISSION Update 2

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27.06.2015

Million-mile journey to an asteroid begins for ASU-built instrument

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The final tests for OTES include measuring with great precision the instrument's optical field of view. Preparing for this are instrument scientist Philip Christensen (left), opto-mechanical engineer Bill O'Donnell (rear, behind OTES) and project engineer Greg Mehall. The lab is one of the "clean rooms," in which hair – including facial hair – must be covered.
Photo by: Charles Leight/ASU News
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A journey that will stretch millions of miles and take years to complete begins with a short trip to a loading dock.
The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES for short) is the first space instrument built entirely on the Arizona State University campus. It forms a key part of a NASA mission to collect a sample from a primitive asteroid and return the sample to Earth.
About the size of a microwave oven, OTES has spent the past several years being designed, built, tested and calibrated. It has been bathed in rays to mimic the Sun's radiation, it has endured temperatures high and low, and it has experienced atmospheric pressures ranging from Earth-normal to hard vacuum.
Now after three months of round-the-clock testing, OTES is shipping out for the solar system.
"We're extremely pleased to have built this outstanding instrument here at ASU," said Philip Christensen, OTES' designer and instrument scientist. "Our weeks of testing and calibration have shown that OTES is of exceptional quality and sensitivity.
"We expect it's the first of many instruments to come from ASU."
Christensen is Regents Professor of Geological Sciences in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration. While his main research has involved Mars, Christensen said, "OTES is a direct descendant of two highly successful infrared instruments we've sent to Mars. These have mapped the rocks and minerals on that planet."
He explains, "The infrared is great for identifying minerals, and OTES will map the mineralogy of the asteroid's surface."
OTES is one of five instruments on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, and the first to be completed. OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer. The mission is led by the University of Arizona in Tucson, and it is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers solar-system exploration program.
The flight plan calls for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to launch in September 2016 and rendezvous with asteroid 101955 Bennu in August 2018, with a first sample-collecting attempt in October 2019. Bennu was chosen as a target in part because it is believed to be little changed from the time it formed, early in the solar system's history. Samples from it could improve our understanding of the origin of Earth's water and organics – both essential to life as we know it.
Touch and go
OSIRIS-REx will spend up to 15 months surveying Bennu's mineralogy and chemistry using OTES and another spectrometer working at shorter infrared and visible wavelengths. A visible-light camera suite, a laser altimeter and an X-ray spectrometer will complete the picture of the asteroid.
When mission scientists have chosen a spot on the asteroid to sample, OSIRIS-REx will approach the surface, touch it briefly and collect at least 60 grams (2 ounces) of dust, soil and rubble.
With the sample collected, OSIRIS-REx will cruise back to Earth and use a sample-return capsule to deliver the sample to a landing site in Utah in September 2023. Then after diverting past Earth, the spacecraft will go into orbit around the Sun.Said Christensen, "After spending most of my career studying Mars, it's exciting and challenging to focus our attention on the origin and history of asteroids and the early solar system."
Quelle: Arizona State University
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OSIRIS-REx’s First Instrument Arrives for Integration Into the Spacecraft

Greg Mehall, lead project engineer, describes the final testing procedures of the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), on June 22. OTES is the first space instrument built entirely on ASU's Tempe campus. (Photo: Symeon Platts/UA)
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The first of five instruments that will map and analyze asteroid Bennu as part of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission has arrive at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility and awaits integration into the spacecraft structure.
OTES is part of a suite of instruments that will enable the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft explore and sample asteroid Bennu. (Illustration: NASA)
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A journey that will stretch millions of miles and take years to complete begins with a short trip to a loading dock.
The first of five instruments for a spacecraft that will collect a sample from an asteroid and bring it back to Earth has arrived at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Littleton, Colorado, for its installation onto NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft.
Led by the University of Arizona, OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to fly to, study and retrieve a pristine sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth for study. Scheduled to launch in September 2016, the spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023. The mission will allow scientists to investigate the composition of material from the very earliest epochs of solar system history, providing information about the source of organic materials and water on Earth.
The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer, or OTES, will conduct surveys to map mineral and chemical abundances and to take the asteroid Bennu’s temperature. OTES is the first such instrument built entirely on the Arizona State University campus.
"It is a significant milestone to have OSIRIS-REx’s first instrument completed and delivered for integration onto the spacecraft," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "The OTES team has done an excellent job on the instrument and I deeply appreciate their scientific contribution to the mission. OTES plays an essential role in characterizing the asteroid in support of sample-site selection."
OTES is one of five instruments from national and international partners. These instruments will be key to mapping and analyzing Bennu’s surface and will be critical in identifying a site from which a sample can be safely retrieved and ultimately returned to Earth.
"OTES, the size of a microwave oven, has spent the last several years being designed, built, tested and calibrated," says Philip Christensen, OTES instrument scientist at ASU. "Now OTES is shipping out for the solar system."
The instrument will be powered on shortly after the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft begins its two-year trip to the asteroid Bennu. On arrival at Bennu, OTES will provide spectral data for global maps used to assess potential sample sites. It will take thermal infrared spectral data every two seconds and will be able to detect temperatures with an accuracy of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It also will detect the presence of minerals on the asteroid’s surface.
The OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) consists of three cameras that will image the asteroid Bennu during approach and proximity operations. Scientists and engineers at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab designed and built OCAMS to image Bennu over nine orders of magnitude in distance, from one million kilometers (more than 620,000 miles) down to two meters (6.5 feet). PolyCam, the largest camera of the OCAMS suite, is both a telescope — acquiring the asteroid from far away while it is still a point of light — and a microscope capable of scrutinizing the pebbles on Bennu's surface. MapCam will map the entire surface of Bennu from a distance of three miles, and the Sampling Camera, or SamCam, is designed to document the sample acquisition. The OCAMS instrument suite is scheduled to be installed on the spacecraft in September.
The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter, or OLA, will scan Bennu to map the entire asteroid surface, producing local and global topographic maps. OLA is a contributed instrument from the Canadian Space Agency.
The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, measures visible and infrared light from Bennu, which can be used to identify water and organic materials. The instrument is provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
A student experiment called the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer, or REXIS, will map elemental abundances on the asteroid. REXIS is a collaboration between the students and faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard College Observatory.
"The next few months will be very busy as we begin integrating the instruments and prepare for the system-level environmental testing program to begin," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The UA's Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
Quelle: The University of Arizona

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Update: 12.07.2015 

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Second Instrument Delivered for OSIRIS-REx Mission

In a clean room facility near Denver, Lockheed Martin technicians continue assembling NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft that will collect samples of an asteroid. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
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A spectrometer that will help the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission team select a suitable sampling site on asteroid Bennu has arrived at Lockheed Martin's spacecraft assembly facility, ready to be integrated into the nascent spacecraft.
An instrument that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin for installation onto NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx.
The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, instrument measures visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu that can be used to identify water and organic materials. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, built the instrument. 
"The delivery of OVIRS to the spacecraft means the mission now has the capability to measure the minerals and chemicals at the sample site on Bennu," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona. "I greatly appreciate the hard work and innovation the OVIRS team demonstrated during the creation of this instrument."
OVIRS, a point spectrometer, will split the light from Bennu into its component wavelengths, similar to a prism that splits sunlight into a rainbow, but over a much broader range of wavelengths. Different chemicals have unique spectral signatures by absorbing sunlight and can be identified in the reflected spectrum. The spectra provided by the instrument will help guide sample site selection.
"Through the team's efforts, OVIRS has become a remarkably capable instrument, which we expect to return exciting science from the asteroid Bennu," said Dennis Reuter, OVIRS instrument lead from Goddard.
After thorough testing with the spacecraft on the ground, the instrument will be powered on for check-out shortly after launch, with first science data collected during the Earth gravity assist in September 2017.
OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. It will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.
The spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, and bring back to Earth a sample of at least 2.1 ounces for study. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.
"The OVIRS team has met all of their technical requirements," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is another step in completing the spacecraft and sending it on its way to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu."
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the UA. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
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The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, will measure visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu, which can be used to identify water and organic materials. (Photo: NASA/GSFC/Bill Hrybyk)
Quelle: The University of Arizona

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Update: 24.08.2015

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Cameras Delivered for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission as Launch Prep Continues

 

The first U.S. mission to return samples of an asteroid to Earth is another step closer to its fall 2016 launch, with the delivery of three cameras that will image and map the giant space rock.

 

A camera suite that will allow NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission to see a near-Earth asteroid, map it, and pick a safe and interesting place to touch the surface and collect a sample, has arrived at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver for installation to the spacecraft.

 

“This is another major step in preparing for our mission,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “With the delivery of the camera suite to the spacecraft contractor, we will have our full complement of cameras and spectrometers.”

 

The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in September 2016 to study Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid that’s about one-third of a mile (approximately 500 meters) across. After rendezvousing with Bennu in 2018, the spacecraft will survey the asteroid, obtain a sample, and return it to Earth in 2023.
The three camera instrument suite, known as OCAMS (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite), was designed and built by the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The largest of the three cameras, PolyCam, is a small telescope that will acquire the first images of Bennu from a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometers) and provide high resolution imaging of the sample site. MapCam will search for satellites and dust plumes around Bennu, map the asteroid in color, and provide images to construct topographic maps. SamCam will document the sample acquisition event and the collected sample. 
“PolyCam, MapCam and SamCam will be our mission’s eyes at Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “OCAMS will provide the imagery we need to complete our mission while the spacecraft is at the asteroid.”
OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, and will return the largest sample from space since the Apollo lunar missions. Scientists expect that Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. OSIRIS-REx’s investigation will inform future efforts to develop a mission to mitigate an impact, should one be required.
"The most important goal of these cameras is to maximize our ability to successfully return a sample,” said OCAMS instrument scientist Bashar Rizk from the University of Arizona, Tucson. “Our mission requires a lot of activities during one trip – navigation, mapping, reconnaissance, sample site selection, and sampling.  While we are there, we need the ability to continuously see what is happening around the asteroid in order to make real-time decisions."
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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The University of Arizona’s camera suite, OCAMS, sits on a test bench that mimics its arrangement on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The three cameras that compose the instrument – MapCam (left), PolyCam and SamCam – are the eyes of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. They will map the asteroid Bennu, help choose a sample site, and ensure that the sample is correctly stowed on the spacecraft.
Credits: University of Arizona/Symeon Platts
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 21.10.2015 

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Begins Environmental Testing

The high gain antenna and solar arrays were installed on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prior to it moving to environmental testing.
Credits: Lockheed Martin Corporation
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NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities, near Denver, Colorado. OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth for further study.
"OSIRIS-REx is entering environmental testing on schedule, on budget and with schedule reserves," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "This allows us to have flexibility if any concerns arise during final launch preparations."
Over the next five months, the spacecraft will be subjected to a range of rigorous tests that simulate the vacuum, vibration and extreme temperatures it will experience throughout the life of its mission.
“This is an exciting time for the program as we now have a completed spacecraft and the team gets to test drive it, in a sense, before we actually fly it to asteroid Bennu,” said Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “The environmental test phase is an important time in the mission as it will reveal any issues with the spacecraft and instruments, while here on Earth, before we send it into deep space.” 
Specifically, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will undergo tests to simulate the harsh environment of space, including acoustical, separation and deployment shock, vibration, and electromagnetic interference. The simulation concludes with a test in which the spacecraft and its instruments are placed in a vacuum chamber and cycled through the extreme hot and cold temperatures it will face during its journey to Bennu.
"This milestone marks the end of the design and assembly stage,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We now move on to test the entire flight system over the range of environmental conditions that will be experienced on the journey to Bennu and back. This phase is critical to mission success, and I am confident that we have built the right system for the job."
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to ship from Lockheed Martin’s facility to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center next May, where it will undergo final preparations for launch.
After launch in September 2016, the spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and bring at least a 60-gram (2.1-ounce) sample back to Earth for study. OSIRIS-REx will return the largest sample from space since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission returned 170 grams (6 ounces) of lunar soil in 1976.
Scientists expect that the Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth. OSIRIS-REx’s investigation will inform future efforts to develop a mission to mitigate an impact, should one be required.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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Quelle: NASA
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Update: 21.01.2016 
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OSIRIS-REx 
Installing SARA - the panel of instruments that will help me collect a sample from
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Quelle: Lockheed Martin

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Update: 21.02.2016

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Student-Built Experiment Integrated onto NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission

A student-built experiment aboard NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has been integrated onto the spacecraft.

The Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) will determine elemental abundances on the surface of asteroid Bennu, complementing the mineral and chemical mapping capabilities provided by two other instruments on the spacecraft.
"The students worked incredibly hard to get to this point,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It is quite an accomplishment to develop a flight instrument and have it integrated to a spacecraft that's headed to an asteroid."
REXIS will observe the solar X-rays and their interaction with the asteroid’s surface material, or regolith. The surface responds to this incoming energy by glowing faintly, or fluorescing, by emitting X-rays. These X-rays have an energy that is uniquely characteristic of the elements. REXIS is a telescope that images this X-ray fluorescence, allowing the production of maps of the different elements present on Bennu's surface.
REXIS brings together students and faculty from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, both in Cambridge. After a competitive process REXIS was selected as a student collaboration experiment as part of OSIRIS-REx.
The instrument will involve more than 100 students throughout the mission. Students at Harvard and MIT will perform data analysis as part of their coursework.
“The REXIS instrument has already achieved its primary objective – to train the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “This team should be proud of all they have accomplished. I look forward to seeing the REXIS data from Bennu and using it to learn more about the chemistry of the asteroid surface.”
OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid. After launch in September 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material and return it to Earth for study. Scientists expect that Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth. OSIRIS-REx’s investigation will also inform future efforts to develop a mission to mitigate an asteroid impact on Earth, should one be required.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx.  Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Quelle: NASA

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Update: 20.04.2016

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Lockheed's New Asteroid Endeavor Has Deep Roots

NASA is primed to provide a U.S.-led multinational research team with an intimate near Earth object (NEO) encounter in the hopes of information that a decade ago would have seemed more sci-fi than scientific. Over a seven-year roundtrip to the asteroid Bennu, the Osiris-REx spaceraft is to carry out a lengthy orbital reconnaissance prior to a novel touch-and-go soil-sample collection session, while at the same time conducting a long-term assessment of the subtle non-gravitational forces that influence the course of thousands of NEOs that could pose an impact threat to Earth—ideally supplying information for a kind of detect-and-deflect primer. 
Bennu, measuring 575 meters (1,186 ft.) across, orbits the Sun every 1.2 years. An early candidate destination for the robotic phase of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, Bennu skirts near to Earth every six years.
While promising to deliver planetary scientists with the first sizeable pristine samples of the carbon-rich surface material left over from the formation of the Solar System’s inner planets—that perhaps delivered water and the building blocks of life as well—Osiris will furnish the planetary protection community with a preview of an object believed to have a relatively high probability—one in 1,800—of impacting the Earth in 2182.
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Lockheed Martin’s Osiris-REx spacecraft undergoes a thermal vacuum test at the company's Littleton, Colorado, facilities. Credit: Lockheed Martin
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The spacecraft is wrapping up the ground systems integration and test phase of its five-year development at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Littleton, Colorado, assembly, test and operations facilities on May 20 for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. 
In Florida, the spacecraft will undergo prelaunch testing for a liftoff from Cape Canaveral AFS atop an Atlas 5 on Sept. 8 (at 7:05 p.m. EST), early in a launch period lasting another 34 days. If all goes well, the spacecraft’s sample-return capsule, toting 60 grams (2.11 oz.) to 2 kg (4.4 lb.) of soil from Bennu, will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere at high velocity in late 2023, parachuting to a landing on the U. S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range west of Salt Lake.
The long, $1 billion mission, led by University of Arizona principal investigator Dante Lauretta and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will afford experts an opportunity to refine measurements of the “Yarkovsky effect,” a small force attributed to sunlight absorbed by NEOs and reemitted as heat energy that builds up over time. The push on asteroids is uneven because of their shape, rotations and surface composition, yet significant if experts are to learn to predict the course of potential impactors and devise strategies to fend them off.
The challenge was clear when NASA’s New Frontiers Program selected Osiris-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation Resource, Identification Security-Regolith Explorer) as its third mission on May 25, 2011, behind the Jupiter-bound Juno and already successful New Horizons Pluto flyby missions.
Japan’s troubled 2003-10 Hayabusa 1 asteroid sample-return mission was testament. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency managed to overcome solar array damage, multiple reaction-wheel failures and periodic losses in communication to reach the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa for the world’s first asteroid sample-return attempt. Hayabusa managed to return with several hundred grains of extraterrestrial material, a hard-won consolation prize.
“We basically try to leverage as much technology as we can from previous missions,” says Tim Linn, Lockheed Martin’s chief systems engineer for the spacecraft. “Osiris-REx is no different.”
The spacecraft shares an open main bus and avionics heritage with NASA’s Lockheed-developed and operated Maven and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which have been circling Mars since September 2014 and March 2006, respectively. Maven is studying Martian atmosphere, while MRO maps and gathers high-definition imagery. Osiris-REx’s high-gain communications antenna is a match for Maven’s.
The heritage strategy, however, draws especially from lessons from Genesis and Stardust, two pioneering NASA deep-space sample-return missions that landed at the Utah Test and Training Range in September 2004 and January 2006, bearing solar wind particles and pieces of Comet Wild 2, respectively. 
Like Stardust’s circular 18-in. sample-return capsule, Osiris-REx’s Earth-return hardware is shielded from the high temperature of atmospheric reentry with a phenolic impregnated carbon ablative material and a back shell housing drogue and main parachutes. The parachutes are designed to slow the return capsule from supersonic to subsonic velocities to an ultimate gentle, intact landing.
Genesis plummeted to the desert floor, a mishap blamed on an inverted gravity sensor critical to the parachute deployment mechanisms. Scientists managed to recover valuable samples from the wreckage. An investigation board blamed the crash on the agency’s rush to embrace a “faster, better, cheaper” culture over a test-as-you-fly ethic.
That is not the case with Osiris-REx, which will feature a new technology for collecting samples from Bennu, Linn says. “We are doing even more to ensure we really understand the end-to-end testing and make sure that everything from the smallest G switch we use to trigger the different parachute events as we reenter have been tested better than they ever were, even in the past,” he says. “We continue to develop better parts, better design techniques.”
Although it is a new feature and critical to the success of Osiris-REx, the articulating 3-meter-long touch-and-go sample-acquisition mechanism (Tagsam) has been under Lockheed internal research and development for more than a decade as a means of gathering loose regolith from small planetary bodies.
Osiris-REx should reach Bennu in October 2019, subsequently initiating a 505-day global mapping campaign at altitudes of 5-0.7-km (3-0.43 mi.), with a suite of cameras and spectrometers contributed by the Canadian and French space agencies. Under current scheduling, Osiris-REx will descend to a site on the surface of the asteroid selected through the survey campaign around July 4, 2021.
“That will be when we have already picked a site on the asteroid and we understand its rotation and its orbital dance. The actual touch-and-go is about a 5-sec. event,” says Linn. “We depart a safe home orbit, come around and do a couple of small maneuvers that basically get us on approach to the surface at about 10 cm [3.9 in.] per sec. and match the rotation period.”
With Tagsam extended, the sampler head will make contact. A burst of nitrogen gas sweeps a fluidized regolith into a chamber in the sampler head. A filter allows the nitrogen to escape, while confining the regolith. Contact pads on the outside of Tagsam will collect additional fine-grained material as they make surface contact.
The Tagsam strategy avoids the pitfalls of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission lander, Philae, which crashed onto the surface during an otherwise successful exploration of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in late 2014.
Lockheed’s integration and test activities with Tagsam used a small blimp-like balloon to off-load gravitational forces. The sample-collecting extension functions like a pogo stick that triggers the nitrogen release as it makes contact with the surface.
Tagsam, equipped with enough nitrogen for three sample acquisitions, will place and secure the sampler head into the Stardust heritage sample-return capsule whose provisional Earth return date is Sept. 24, 2023.
Quelle: Aviation Week
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Update: 4.05.2016 
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NASA's OSIRIS-REx set for 7-year trip to Asteroid Bennu and back
Hurling through space are frozen rocks with the answers to where life on Earth came from and loaded with elements to fuel future deep space missions. The 4.5 billion-year-old space debris are asteroids. One asteroid will have a visitor from a NASA spacecraft set to launch from Florida’s Space Coast in September.
NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission will be the first U.S. spacecraft to return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid, called as Asteroid Bennu. The sample will be the second brought back to Earth, the first was collected by Japanese space agency, JAXA in 2010.
Set to launch from Cape Canaveral on September 8, OSIRIS-REx has two mission objectives with the sample collection: find organic molecules on Bennu's surface to determine if asteroids could be a fuel source on future space missions and provide information to help Earth deflect an asteroid.
NASA and commercial companies like Deep Space Industries are preparing to harvest space resources from near Earth asteroids for their fuel creating elements, oxygen and hydrogen.

Bennu has the potential to threaten Earth, but not for another 160 years. Science collected during the mission will help teach us how to deflect an asteroid from Earth when it becomes necessary, said Humberto Campins, University of Central Florida physics and astronomy professors and a member of OSIRIS-REx's science team.

“Right now it’s not threatening Earth, but of those that could threaten Earth in the future this one could,” said Campins.
Campins is one of two UCF faculty selected for the asteroid mission's science team. Associate professor Yan Fernandez, who specializes in comets and asteroids was also selected.
In 2010, when NASA approached Campins to submit a proposal for the OSIRIS-REx team they were looking for someone to help confirm the presence of important ingredients on an asteroid: water ice and organic molecules.
The space agency was in luck, Campins had just submitted a paper to be published in science journal Nature in January 2010 confirming the detection of water ice and organic molecules on Asteroid 24 Themis.
“The combination of the one solvent that life needs to exist [water ice] plus the building blocks for life [organic molecules],” he explained.
After launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket OSIRIS-REx has a seven-year journey round trip before it brings back the 60 grams, about two ounces, of asteroid material.
The spacecraft will orbit the sun for one year, in 2017 the spacecraft will fly back to Earth getting a gravity assist to slingshot back into space headed towards Asteroid Bennu.
OSIRIS-Rex will begin slowing down for its approach of Bennu in August 2018. It must fly in unison with Bennu at the same speed and direction. For the next year the spacecraft will survey the asteroid.
Campins and the other members of the imaging and science team will produce maps of the asteroid and identify three asteroid sample sites, one primary and two backup options, using the data collected by the 10 onboard instruments.
“This asteroid is likely to be very rich in organic molecules on the surface,” said Campins. They will be looking for sample sites high in hydrated minerals and organics.
For the sample collection in 2019 OSIRIS-Rex will fly alongside Bennu swooping in to collect a sample with the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM instrument. A robotic arm will tap the asteroid’s surface for five seconds stirring up the surface to direct material into the sampler. The spacecraft could collect up to four pounds of asteroid material. The sample will be stowe in the Sample Return Capsule for its Earth-bound trip.
Four years after the sample collection at Bennu and seven years after launch OSIRIS-REx will drop the sample capsule for a soft parachute-assisted landing in Utah.
Currently the spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is awaiting transport to Florida at Lockheed Martin’s Space Operations and Simulation Center in Colorado. It will start the cross-county trip on May 20.
Quelle: Orlando Sentinel
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Update: 20.05.2016

Charleston C-17 cargo jet will fly NASA’s asteroid-bound spacecraft across the country Friday

A Charleston-based Air Force cargo jet will carry a NASA spacecraft across the country on Friday to Florida where it will be launched later this year toward an asteroid in outerspace.
The C-17, part of the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, will deliver the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from Buckley Air Force Base in Colo., to the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has a unique mission ahead: traveling to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu. After several years of mapping and study, the craft will bring a 2.1-ounce sample back for study.
“The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth,” the Air Force said in a news release.
Bennu is considered a carbon-rich asteroid and contains ancient information about the earliest history of the solar system. Bennu is also considered a potentially hazardous asteroid and has a chance of impacting the Earth late in the 22nd century, according to government and scientific projections
“OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to refine the impact probability estimate and developing an impact mitigation strategy, if it becomes necessary,” a media release said.
The spacecraft is cubical in design, measuring about 8 feet by 8 feet and weighs about 1,940 pounds. With its solar panels expanded, the craft’s total length is more than 20 feet.
The shipping container the OSIRIS-REx is packed in for its travel Friday weighs more than 9,000 pounds and was specifically built to put on a C-17.
The OSIRIS-REx (short for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security — Regolith Explorer) is scheduled for launch into space in September. It will reach the asteroid in 2018 and return with its sample to Earth in 2023. Cost of the mission is around $800 million.
Anyone wishing to follow Friday’s flight from Colorado to Florida on social media may do so by tuning into #osirisrex. The hashtag will be fed by NASA and other involved parties during the trip.
Quelle: Charleston (SC) Post and Courier

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Update: 21.05.2016

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NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission arrives at KSC

A shipping container holding NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft being offloaded from a C-17 aircraft after landing Friday evening at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.
(Photo: NASA via Twitter)
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NASA's first mission seeking to collect an asteroid sample for return to Earth has arrived at Kennedy Space Center to prepare for a September launch.
An Air Force C-17 aircraft carrying the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft took off from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver and touched down on KSC's three-mile Shuttle Landing Facility around 7 p.m. Friday.
The $800 million mission is targeting a Sept. 8 liftoff on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. It must launch by Oct. 12 or else be delayed for a year.
Short for "Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer," OSIRIS-REx is expected in August 2018 to reach the asteroid Bennu, a space rock measuring about 1,900 feet in diameter that poses a potential threat to Earth late in the next century.
The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft in 2019 will use a robotic arm to try to pluck a two-ounce sample from Bennu's surface for return to Earth by 2023.
"Scientists suspect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth," NASA said in a press release.
At KSC, teams planned to transport the spacecraft to the center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, where it will be unpacked from a crate on Saturday to begin launch processing activity.
Quelle: Florida Today
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Update: 23.05.2016
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NASA Begins Launch Preparations for the First U.S. Asteroid Sampling Mission
NASA's first spacecraft designed to return a piece of an asteroid to Earth arrived Friday, May 20, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and has begun final preparations in advance of its September launch.
The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will undergo final testing and fueling prior to being moved to its launch pad. The mission has a 34-day launch period beginning on Sept. 8. 
After launch, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of pristine surface material and return it to Earth for study. Scientists expect that Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.
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NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is revealed after its protective cover is removed inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin's facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
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"I'm extremely proud of our team and excited to be shipping the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center, said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "We still have a few major milestones to go, but I'm confident that we'll get them done and be ready to launch on time and begin our mission to Bennu."
Over the weekend, the team transferred the spacecraft from the shipping container into a cleanroom and performed post-ship inspections to confirm that OSIRIS-REx arrived in good condition. The spacecraft is ready to begin its final round of testing and pre-launch checks, which are scheduled to commence later today when it will be installed onto a spin balance fixture. Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, instrument and power functional tests, spacecraft self-tests and deployments of the spacecraft's solar panels. 
The spacecraft was transported from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, on Friday aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Lockheed Martin Space Systems designed and built the spacecraft in its Littleton, Colorado, facility.
“Delivering OSIRIS-REx to the launch site marks an important milestone, one that’s been many years in the making,” said Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “The spacecraft has undergone a rigorous environmental test program in Denver, but we still have plenty of work ahead of us. Many on our team have temporarily moved to Florida so they can continue final processing and have the spacecraft ready for the Sept. 8 launch date.”
After launch, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has an approximately two-year cruise to reach Bennu in 2018. Upon arrival, OSIRIS-REx will spend two years conducting surface mapping and sample site reconnaissance operations before performing the sampling maneuver in 2020. OSIRIS-REx will then deliver the pristine sample of Bennu back to Earth in 2023. 
“This team has done a phenomenal job of assembling and testing the spacecraft,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “As we begin the final preparations for launch, I am confident that this spacecraft is ready to perform its science operations at Bennu.  And I can’t wait to fly it.”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx.  Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona.  Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages NASA’s New Frontiers Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch and countdown management is the responsibility of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Quelle: NASA


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