NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission: First Asteroid Sample return started
NASA's first asteroid sample capsule retrieval attempt through the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has started the journey to earth.
NASA's spacecraft that will return an asteroid sample to Earth is finally homeward bound. The asteroid sample will be returned to Earth by NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security -Regolith Explorer) next year in 2023.
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft started its journey in 2021, and now it is expected to return a sample of the asteroid 'Bennu' on September 24, 2023. As reported by Phys.org, OSIRIS-REx, fired its thrusters for 30 seconds on Sept. 21.
To ensure the safe delivery of the capsule containing the Bennu sample to earth's atmosphere, Mike Moreau, OSIRIS-REx deputy project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said that the spacecraft must approach Earth at a specific speed and in the proper direction. He explained that if the capsule is inclined too high, it will skip off the atmosphere while at low angle, the Earth's atmosphere will burn it up.
The spacecraft left the asteroid Bennu on May 10, 2021, and since then it had altered its course for the first time. According to NASA, it would pass earth at a distance of around 2,200 kilometres on its current course.
“We will eventually shift the OSIRIS-REx trajectory over the course of the next year to aim the spacecraft closer to Earth. We must cross Earth's orbit at the same time that Earth will be in that place,” said KinetX Inc.'s trajectory and maneuver design lead, Daniel Wibben in a statement.
The spacecraft is likely to approach the Earth within about 155 miles (250 km) which is nearly enough for the sample capsule to be released into the atmosphere for a precision parachute landing.
The US space agency is working closely with the Air Force and Army to practice capsule retrieval and transport to onsite facilities at the Utah range, says report by Phys.org.
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