A NASA mission to study Bennu has concluded flyover activities and is moving away from the near-Earth asteroid following “Touch and Go” material excavation and sample collection operations.
NASA said Thursday that the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission completed its flyby on April 7th at 6 a.m. EDT.
The agency’s OSIRIS-REx team will conduct assessments of surface changes on Bennu after TAG activities that took place in October 2020. During the flyby, OSIRIS-REx facilitated imaging procedures for 5.9 hours at a distance of approximately 2.1 miles from the asteroid’s surface to capture over a full rotation.
The mission will use the Deep Space Network to downlink data to ground stations, which are slated to receive the data no earlier than April 13. OSIRIS-Rex will remain within Bennu’s vicinity until it commences a two-year return trip on May 10. The mission is scheduled to return to Earth by Sept. 24, 2023.
Mike Moreau, deputy project manager for the OSIRIS-REx mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said the mission collected around 4,000 megabytes of data during the flyover.
NASA previously selected Lockheed Martin’s space business to construct the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and provide flight operations support.