NASA has just released this short video of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s brief but all important contact with the asteroid Bennu. You can read the Cosmos story on the event here.
The sampling arm TAGSAM (Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism) is visible in the lower part of the frame. In the middle of the image sequence, the head positions itself to contact the asteroid’s surface head-on. Shortly after, it penetrates Bennu’s regolith.
Upon initial contact, the head appears to crush some of the porous rocks underneath it. One second later, the spacecraft fires a nitrogen gas bottle, which mobilises a substantial amount of the sample site’s material.
Preliminary data show the spacecraft spent about five of the six seconds of contact collecting surface material, with most occurring in the first three seconds. The mission team will now assess the amount of material collected.
The spacecraft was travelling at 10 cm/sec when it contacted sample site Nightingale, then backed away at 40 cm/sec. This sequence was created using 82 SamCam images captured over about five minutes.
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.