Asteroid-Sampling Spacecraft Prepped for Launch in September This Year

NASA is all set to launch OSIRIS-REx this year in September. OSIRIS-REx is a robotic spacecraft which is built to collect the samples of the asteroid Bennu, which will be nearest to Earth in 2018.  Bennu has been calculated to be of a 500-510 meter diameter asteroid and OSIRIX-REx will spend two years to map the object before collecting its samples and returning to Earth. OSIRIX-REx is predicted to reach its set destination in 2018 and return back to Earth on 2023.

This Asteroid napping spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. The spacecraft was then sent to Florida in a C-17 aircraft for cargo.

The spacecraft has already undergone arduous environmental test programs and the team will continue to work on the spacecraft till the final processing is complete and the OSIRIS-REx is ready for launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The purpose of collecting the samples is to research the samples which the scientists believe could reveal to us how organic molecules and water found their way to Earth.

The OSIRIX-REx is a 2110kg fueled spacecraft packed with a set of scientific instruments. There is an OCAMS which is a set of three cameras which will display high resolution pictures of the asteroid and help locate a suitable site for sample. There is the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter- OLA which will scan to report the topographical information and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer – OTES which will assemble the temperature and mineral information by gathering infrared spectral data.

The agency says that the spacecraft has enough space to carry up to 2kg of sample from Bennu and expect at least 60gm in worst scenarios. OSIRIX-Rex will undergo spacecraft self-tests and other functional tests before it is ready for its launch on September 8, 2016.

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