NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Touches Asteroid | UPSC
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx will land on an asteroid to bring home rocks and dust – if it can avoid Mt. Doom
WHY IN NEWS:
However, nothing ventured, nothing gained
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Space
For PRELIMS go through the aim , the mission , equipments of the spacecraft and quick facts about asteroid bennu .
For MAINS well this is an old mission now but still stands significant ! You have to take this into consideration and write a detailed answer on this mission . Let us dive in !
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx stands for- Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer asteroid sample return mission.
- Asteroids are remnants of the building blocks that formed the planets and enabled life.
- Future space exploration and economic development may rely on asteroids for these materials.
- OSIRIS-REx seeks answers to the questions that are central to the human experience: Where did we come from? What is our destiny?
- The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling to Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose regolith may record the earliest history of our solar system.
- Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans.
- OSIRIS-REx will determine Bennu’s physical and chemical properties, which will be critical to know in the event of an impact mitigation mission.
- Finally, asteroids like Bennu contain natural resources such as water, organics, and precious metals.
- In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the solar system by robotic and crewed spacecraft.
OSIRIS-REx’s key science objectives include:
- Return and analyze a sample of Bennu’s surface
- Map the asteroid
- Document the sample site
- Compare observations at the asteroid to ground-based observations
- OSIRIS-REx contains five instruments to explore Bennu.
- Each of which provides important information for the mission.
This suite of instruments is used for remote sensing or scanning the surface of the asteroid.
1.OSIRIS-REX CAMERA SUITE (OCAMS) – a system consisting of three cameras to observe Bennu and provide global image mapping, as well as sample site image mapping.
The suite consists of these cameras:
- MAPCAM – a camera that will map the surface of the asteroid in four colors
- POLYCAM – an 8-inch (20 centimeter) telescope that will be the first to image the asteroid from 1.24 million miles (2 million kilometers) away and also provide high-resolution microscope-like images of the surface
- SAMCAM – a camera that will image (as fast as 1.6 seconds) the sample acquisition event and examine the sample collector to verify successful acquisition.
2.OSIRIS-REX LASER ALTIMETER (OLA)– a scanning LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to measure the distance between the spacecraft and Bennu’s surface and map the shape of the asteroid.
3.OSIRIS-REX THERMAL EMISSION SPECTROMETER (OTES) – this will provide mineral and temperature information by observing the thermal infrared spectrum.
4.OSIRIS-REX VISIBLE AND INFRARED SPECTROMETER (OVIRS) – it will measure visible and infrared light from Bennu to identify mineral and organic material.
5.REGOLITH X-RAY IMAGING SPECTROMETER (REXIS) – a student experiment to determine what elements are present on Bennu’s surface and how abundant they are.
SAMPLE COLLECTION AND RETURN
- While OSIRIS-REx is the first NASA mission to attempt to collect a sample from an asteroid.
- OSIRIS-REx is the United States’ first asteroid sample return mission, aiming to collect and carry a pristine, unaltered sample from an asteroid back to Earth for scientific study.
- The spacecraft will deploy an 11-foot-long robotic arm called TAGSAM — Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism.
- It will spend about 10 seconds collecting at least two ounces of loose rubble from the asteroid.
This image shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s sampling arm – called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM)
CREDITS : NASA.GOV
WHAT BENNU CAN TEACH US
- Asteroids are relics of the earliest materials that formed our solar system.
- Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid with possible risk of impacting the Earth in the late 2100s, so the mission also is exploring ways in which such a collision might be avoided.
- Mapping the chemical properties of Bennu to learn can tell about the potential for mining asteroids to produce rocket fuel — a notion since 2004.
HOW WAS BENNU CHOSEN?
- PROXIMITY TO EARTH : At the time of the mission’s asteroid selection in 2008, there were over 7,000 known NEOs, but only 192 had orbits that met these criteria.
- SIZE : Asteroids with small diameters rotate more rapidly than those with large diameters.
- COMPOSITION : Of the 26 asteroids left on the list, only 12 had a known composition, and only 5 were primitive and carbon-rich.
- Bennu is a B-type asteroid with a ~500 meter diameter.
- It completes an orbit around the Sun every 436.604 days (1.2 years) and every 6 years comes very close to Earth, within 0.002 AU.
- Bennu’s size, primitive composition, and potentially hazardous orbit make it one of the most fascinating and accessible NEOs and the ideal OSIRIS-REx target asteroid.
This set of stereoscopic images provides a 3D view of the 170-foot (52-meter) boulder that juts from asteroid Bennu’s southern hemisphere and the rocky slopes that surround it.
CREDITS : NASA.GOV
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained yet !
- The mission is less than two weeks away from fulfilling its biggest goal – collecting a piece of a pristine, hydrated, carbon-rich asteroid.
- OSIRIS-REx will depart Bennu in 2021 and deliver the sample to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.
SOURCES:DownToEarth| NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Touches Asteroid | UPSC