How to ‘watch’ NASA’s OSIRIS-REx snatch a sample from near-Earth asteroid Bennu – ProWellTech
NASA The OSIRIS-REx probe is about to land on an asteroid for a smash-and-grab mission, and you can follow its progress live, more or less. The boat is expected to carry out the collection operation this afternoon and we will know in a few minutes if everything went according to plan.
OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer, was launched in September 2016 and since arriving at its destination, the asteroid Bennu has performed a delicate dance with it, entering an orbit close enough to set records.
Today is the culmination of the team’s efforts, the current “touch and go” or TAG maneuver that will see the spacecraft land briefly on the surface of the asteroid and suck up some of its precious space dust. A few seconds later, once the sampling is confirmed, the aircraft will fly upward again to escape Bennu and begin his journey home.
While there won’t be a live HD video of the entire attempt, NASA will provide both a live animation of the process informed by OSIRIS-REx’s telemetry, and presumably any good images captured as it descends.
We know for a fact that this is both possible and very interesting because Japan’s asteroid Hayabusa-2 mission did something very similar last year, but with the added complexity (and coldness) of firing a bullet to the surface to mix things up and get a sample.
NASA coverage begins at 2:00 pm Pacific, and the landing event is scheduled to take place about an hour later, at 3:12 am if all goes according to plan. You can watch the entire scene in simulation on this Twitch feed, which will be updated live, but NASA TV will also have live coverage and commentary on its YouTube channel. The images may come back from descent and collection, but they will be delayed (it’s hard to send a lot of data over a million miles away), so if you want the latest, listen carefully to NASA feeds.