NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Spies Its Target Asteroid
What in news:
Ø NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) caught its first glimpse of Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid.
Ø NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has captured first images of its target asteroid Bennu and began its final approach towards it after almost two-year journey.
Ø The first glimpses of targeted asteroid were captured by PolyCam camera OCAMS on board of OSIRIS-Rex from a distance of 2.1 million kilometer.
Ø In addition to the OCAMS camera suite, the spacecraft's science payload includes the OTES thermal spectrometer, the OVIRS visible and infrared spectrometer, the OLA laser altimeter and the REXIS X-ray spectrometer
Ø Polycam, so named because it is poly-functional, has two jobs: one as a long-range acquisition camera, and the second as a reconnaissance camera once the spacecraft gets close to Bennu
Ø It will help to study Bennu’s size, shape, surface features, and surroundings
Ø OSIRIS-REx performed a slingshot maneuver, or gravity assist, around Earth 11 months ago.
Ø As OSIRIS-REx approaches the asteroid, the spacecraft will use its science instruments to gather information about Bennu and prepare for arrival
Ø OSIRIS-REx is NASA's first mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid, survey the surface, collect a sample and deliver it safely back to Earth.
Ø It is Led by the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
Ø Launched on 8 September 2016
Ø Its mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid, and return a sample to Earth on 24 September 2023 for detailed analysis.
Ø The OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) consists of the PolyCam, the MapCam, and the SamCam
· PolyCam, an 8-inch (20 cm) telescope, acquires images with increasingly higher resolution as the spacecraft approaches the asteroid.
· MapCam searches for satellites and outgassing plumes. It maps the asteroid in 4 different colors, informs our model of Bennu's shape and provides high resolution imaging of the sample-site.
· SamCam continuously documents the sample acquisition.
Ø The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) is a scanning and LIDAR instrument that will provide high resolution topographical information throughout the mission.
Reasons to select Bennu asteroid for study:
Ø 101955 Bennu asteroid was selected because of the availability of pristine carbonaceous material, a key element in organic molecules necessary for life as well as representative of matter from before the formation of Earth.
Ø Organic molecules, such as amino acids, have previously been found in meteorite and comet samples, indicating that some ingredients necessary for life can be naturally synthesized in outer space.
Expected prelims question
Consider the following statements
1. Asteroid sampling spacecraft OSIRIS-Rex belongs to NASA
2. OSIRIS-Rex’s mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) Only 1
b) Only 2
c) Both 1 and 2
d) None of above
Ans - c
Expected mains question
Discuss in detail about OSIRIS-REx which is NASA's first mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid, survey the surface, collect a sample and deliver it safely back to Earth.