GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain.
This trio of images acquired by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft shows a wide shot and two close-ups of a region in asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere. The wide-angle image (left), obtained by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera, shows a 590-foot (180-meter) wide area with many rocks, including some large boulders, and a “pond” of regolith that is mostly devoid of large rocks.
The two closer images, obtained by the high-resolution PolyCam camera, show details of areas in the MapCam image, specifically a 50-foot (15 meter) boulder (top) and the regolith pond (bottom). The PolyCam frames are 101 feet (31 meters) across and the boulder depicted is approximately the same size as a humpback whale.
The images were taken on February 25 while the spacecraft was in orbit around Bennu, approximately 1.1 miles (1.8 km) from the asteroid’s surface. The observation plan for this day provided for one MapCam and two PolyCam images every 10 minutes, allowing for this combination of context and detail of Bennu’s surface.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to orbit Bennu at an altitude ranging from 1.6 to 2.1 km, with an orbital period of 61 hours. The spacecraft has completed 5.5 orbits of Bennu to date. The one-way communication time from the spacecraft back to Earth is around 5.5 minutes.
On the ground, the mission held its 14th Science Team Meeting at the University of Arizona last week. This was the first science team meeting since the spacecraft’s arrival at the asteroid, which means it was also the first gathering where the entire science team was able to work with detailed Bennu data from the spacecraft.
January 07, 2019
On Dec. 29 and 31, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully completed the two maneuvers required to enter orbit about Bennu. The accurate performance of these orbit insertion maneuvers, as well as the continued accurate navigation performance since orbit insertion, allowed for the wave-off of several planned updates to the spacecraft’s orbit determination (OD). The mission’s navigation team will continue to study OD performance over the first few weeks of spacecraft orbits to further refine and predict orbital operations – which will eventually allow the team to reduce the trim burn schedule.
The first orbit of Bennu, which started on Dec. 31, ended 61.4 hours later on Jan. 3. The spacecraft will continue orbiting the asteroid through mid-February.
TUCSON (University of Arizona PR) — At 2:43 p.m. EST on December 31, while many on Earth prepared to welcome the New Year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) away, carried out a single, eight-second burn of its thrusters – and broke a space exploration record. The spacecraft entered into orbit around the asteroid Bennu, and made Bennu the smallest object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Recently analyzed data from NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has revealed water locked inside the clays that make up its scientific target, the asteroid Bennu.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Dec. 3, after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid. It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA researchers will present new findings on a wide range of Earth and space science topics at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Dec. 10-14 in Washington. NASA-related briefings will stream live on the agency’s website.
Briefing topics include: the latest findings from the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission to asteroid Bennu and the new Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Earth-observing mission; the lingering impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico; and an update on Voyager 2 at the edge of the solar system.
Agency scientists, and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities, also will present noteworthy findings during scientific sessions that are open to registered media.
Details on NASA presentations will be updated online throughout the week. For a complete and up-to-date schedule of briefings and media participation information, visit:
LITTLETON, Colo. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous with its targeted asteroid, Bennu, on Monday, Dec. 3 at approximately noon EST.
NASA will air a live event from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EST to highlight the arrival of the agency’s first asteroid sample return mission. The program will originate from OSIRIS-REx’s mission control at the Lockheed Martin Space facility in Littleton, Colorado, and will air on NASA Television, Facebook Live, Ustream, YouTube and the agency’s website. NASA TV also will air an arrival preview program starting at 11:15 a.m. EST.
OSIRIS-REx launched in September 2016 and has been slowly approaching Bennu. The spacecraft will spend almost a year surveying the asteroid with five scientific instruments with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023.
Participants in the arrival coverage event include:
Michelle Thaller, moderator, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, University of Arizona, Tucson
Mark Fisher, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft engineer, Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colo.
Coralie Adam, OSIRIS-REx flight navigator, KinetX, Inc. Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics, Simi Valley, Calif.
DENVER, Nov. 16, 2018 (Lockheed Martin PR) — TAGSAM, or Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, completed a successful practice deployment in space on Nov. 14—an important milestone in the OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu. TAGSAM is the first-of-its-kind robotic arm and sampling head invented by Lockheed Martin.
The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.
NASA will host a live Science Chat at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discuss upcoming encounters of two of the agency’s planetary missions – the arrival of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) at the asteroid Bennu, on Dec. 3, and New Horizons’ historic flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019.
Topics will include the critical clues these objects hold to the formation of the solar system, complementary mission science goals and much more.
Hal Weaver, New Horizons Project Scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
Melissa Morris, OSIRIS-REx Deputy Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters
Media may submit questions before and during the event by emailing JoAnna Wendel at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public may ask questions on Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment on the livestream of the event on the NASA Solar System page.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will initiate an intricate dance with Bennu, mapping and studying it in preparation for sample collection in July 2020. OSIRIS-REx will deliver the sample to Earth in September 2023.
New Horizons will fly by its target, nicknamed Ultima Thule, approximately four billion miles from Earth – the farthest space probe flyby in history. This encounter complements the discoveries still coming from the mission’s July 2015 exploration of the Pluto system. However, this time, the spacecraft will come three times closer to Ultima than it did to Pluto.
For information about NASA’s New Horizons mission, visit:
This “super-resolution” view of asteroid Bennu was created using eight images obtained by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Oct. 29, 2018, from a distance of about 205 miles (330 km). The spacecraft was moving as it captured the images with the PolyCam camera, and Bennu rotated 1.2 degrees during the nearly one minute that elapsed between the first and the last snapshot. The team used a super-resolution algorithm to combine the eight images and produce a higher resolution view of the asteroid. Bennu occupies about 100 pixels and is oriented with its north pole at the top of the image.