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Space Dynamics Lab Built Tool Aids Asteroid Sample Collection Rehearsal

April 27, 2020 | Via Satellite

NASA recently announced that its spacecraft known as OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security) has successfully rehearsed a maneuver to collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu using a Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL)-built camera detector assembly. The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through two maneuvers to a point approximately 213 feet above the surface, before backing the spacecraft away.

The Space Dynamics Laboratory-built SamCam camera detector assembly on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaches and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface. Photo: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Alan Thurgood, SDL’s director of Commercial and Civil Space Division said that SDL built the camera electronics for the three-camera suite aboard OSIRIS-REx, called OCAMS. The “SamCam” camera detector assembly will photograph the sample acquisition event on Bennu. In addition, the other onboard cameras SDL helped to build have enabled NASA to acquire images of Bennu from approximately 1.2 million miles away.

OSIRIS-REx was launched by ULA in September 2016, and is tasked with collecting a sample from Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose rocky surface may contain evidence of the beginnings of our solar system. Over the next several months, OSIRIS-REx will continue rehearsing the sample collection.

“We are grateful to the Space Dynamics Lab for their important technical support of our imaging systems. The OCAMS instrument has provided unprecedented coverage of a planetary body, thanks in large part to the SDL detector assemblies,” said OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, Dr. Dante Lauretta at the University of Arizona.