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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx on journey to Bennu: Spacecraft fired first TCM to adjust trajectory


Bennu is reported as a potentially dangerous asteroid and scientists have estimated that it may harm earth at some time in next century. US space agency NASA has developed a space craft to reach the asteroid and the exploration includes bringing samples from the surface of Bennu.

The mission is named as ‘The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer’ (OSIRIS-Rex) was launched on September 8 and around $800 million are spent over it. The mission involves collecting samples of rocks and surface soil from the asteroid.

Spacecraft Fired Thrusters

OSIRIS-REx space craft which is at present nearly 9 million miles from Earth fired its Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thrusters for first time on Friday. The thrusters are fired to slightly adjust the trajectory of the space craft on journey to Bennu. This has also slightly changed the velocity of the spaceship by 1.1 mile per hour i.e. 50 cm per second.

Much larger propulsive maneuver planned in December

This was however not very much needed at this time as the launch was very accurate and the space craft was on trajectory but as the mission involves a much trajectory maneuver in the month of December so this small TCM was a test of thrusters and practice to prepare for propulsive maneuver planned in December.

Scientists Excited for the mission

NASA administrator Charles Bolden told that the scientist working for the mission are really excited as the mission can tell a lot about the origin of solar system. The mission can help find new facts and make possible even those milestones that are considered science fiction today. Bennu is considered to be created 4.5 Billion years ago from the remains left after the solar system was formed and according to scientists asteroids may have provided water to earth.

Sample collection and mapping schedule

The space craft will start mapping the asteroids surface in August 2018 and will take photographs of the surface of the asteroid. This will help in understanding mineralogical and chemical composition of the asteroid. During this time the sample collection site will be selected and in year 2020 the space ship will touch the surface of the asteroid for just three seconds and collect 60 gms of loose rocks and dust from its surface by using a device called Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition mechanism.

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