The American space probe Osiris-Rex, acronym of Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification-Security Regolith Explorer, has just completed its encounter with the asteroid Bennu, discovered in 1999.
Led by NASA, this mission aims to study the celestial body through the collection of regolith samples.
The meeting, which lasted about 6 seconds, was immortalized thanks to the taking of photographs by SamCam. This camera belongs to the OCAMS set (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite) which is made up of three cameras: the PolyCam which has a 200 mm telephoto lens, the MapCam which is responsible for mapping the star and SamCam was to film the phase debit.
A sequence created from 82 images
The images were taken over a period of approximately five minutes. The sequence of images begins approximately 25 meters above the surface and continues during the recoil maneuver. The last image in the sequence was taken at about 13 meters in altitude, or about 35 seconds after backing up. The sequence was created from 82 frames from SamCam, with 1.25 seconds between each frame.
Bringing back a regolith sample from an asteroid is a very complex task. The Osiris-Rex mission team had the choice between two operating modes. Either the probe landed on the asteroid and then collected the sample, or it performed a touch-and-go. The second option was chosen, perfectly illustrated by the series of photographs.
Return to Earth scheduled for 2023
“The conclusion, based on the images we have received so far, is that the sampling operation went very well, as well as expected.“said Dante Lauretta, responsible for the mission, quoted by Point. The return to Earth of the sample capsule is scheduled for September 2023.