Last week the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft grabbed material from the surface of an asteroid, but scientists report it grabbed so much that the collector head seems to be leaking small particles. Today NASA announced it’s moving up plans to secure what it grabbed. The maneuver was originally scheduled to take place on November 2nd, but now they’re going to do it tomorrow.
Tomorrow, the OSIRIS-REx mission will begin the process to stow its abundant sample of asteroid Bennu. It’s a few days earlier than originally anticipated, but the team is working hard to make sure we get every bit of Bennu we possibly can. More details: https://t.co/b7Wnoz219q pic.twitter.com/PXIlkZhnzi— NASA's OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) October 26, 2020
It will take several days for the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) arm to deposit its collector head into a capsule on the spacecraft, since the entire process is controlled manually and it’s so far away from the Earth that signals take over 18 minutes to transmit one way.
The team also mentioned they’ve updated the process to include an imaging sequence “to observe the material escaping from the collector head and verify that no particles hinder the stowage process.” Should be simple enough, right?