NASA has given the OSIRIS-REx mission, led by the University of Arizona, the go-ahead to begin building the spacecraft, flight instruments, ground system and launch support facilities. OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission slated to send a spacecraft to a near-earth asteroid and collect samples.
The mission will focus on finding answers to basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth. It will also aid NASA’s asteroid initiative and support the agency's efforts to understand the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects and characterize those suitable for future asteroid exploration missions.
The UA got the thumbs up on April 9 after a successful Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) for NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). The review was held at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Littleton, Colo., April 1-9. An independent review board, comprised of experts from NASA and several external organizations, met to review the system design.
"Successfully passing mission CDR is a major accomplishment, but the hard part is still in front of us – building, integrating and testing the flight system to meet our tight launch window," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
"It marks a major shift in our mission," said Ed Beshore, a scientist at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, who is the mission's deputy principal investigator. "For all of us involved with OSIRIS-REx, it is a transition from designing the mission to implementing it. It means we are now cutting metal, building a spacecraft and writing software."
OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2016, rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spend a year studying the asteroid before collecting a sample of at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of surface material and returning it to Earth for scientists to study in 2023.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission oversight for OSIRIS-REx. The UA will lead the effort, provide the camera system and science processing and operations center. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by the Marshall Spaceflight Center.
"The OSIRIS-REx team has consistently demonstrated its ability to present a comprehensive mission design that meets all requirements within the resources provided by NASA," said principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a professor at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Mission CDR was no exception. This is a great team. I know we will build a flight and ground system that is up to the challenges of this ambitious mission."
At the UA's Michael J. Drake building, staffing levels have ramped up to full capacity with the construction of the spacecraft's camera system and building the Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC). The Drake building is also where the office of the principal investigator (PI) is headquartered.
"The PI office is fully engaged in planning mission operations and ensuring the scientific integrity of the mission as well as overseeing the cost and schedule performance of the project," mission PI Lauretta said. "This office also will lead the analysis of the sample after the spacecraft returns it to the Earth in 2023."
"Missions like OSIRIS-REx consist of two major elements: the flight system – spacecraft and instruments – and the ground system," Beshore explained. "The CDR is as much an approval of our ground system as of the spacecraft."
"Once the spacecraft flies, it is under the control of the ground system," Beshore explained.
Ground system operations include planning scientific observations, designing and implementing spacecraft navigation, verifying that the spacecraft is safe at all times during its journey, programming the commands that control the spacecraft and transmitting them over the Deep Space Network, and retrieving data from the spacecraft, processing and analyzing it.
"Many ground system activities will take place right here in Tucson," Beshore said. "We will decide where we want to go, what data we want to acquire, and how to process the data once it starts coming down from the spacecraft."
Along with activity on the ground, the mission already is delivering considerable economic benefits to Arizona's economy. The camera system engineering and fabrication teams are fully operational, and SPOC is close to planned staffing levels. KinetX, a company based in Tempe, Ariz., is tasked with navigating the spacecraft, while the thermal emission spectrometer, OTES, is being built by Arizona State University, also in Tempe.
The public can follow mission progress on the OSIRIS-REx website and the PI blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. As part of its public engagement effort, people around the world are invited to submit their names to be etched on a microchip and placed aboard the spacecraft. After signing up with the “Messages to Bennu” campaign, participants are able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission.
OSIRIS-REx is the second NASA mission led by the UA. In May of 2008, the UA's Phoenix Mars lander touched down near the north pole of Mars, in the first Mars mission ever led by a university. Phoenix confirmed and examined patches of the widespread deposits of underground water ice and found evidence suggesting occasional presence of thawed water. The UA also operates the HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has photographed the surface of the red planet in stunning detail. Other NASA missions involving UA scientists include the Cassini spacecraft studying Saturn and its moon Titan, the JUNO mission to Jupiter and the MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury.
OSIRIS-REx mission: http://www.asteroidmission.org/
Dante Lauretta’s PI Blog: http://dslauretta.com/category/osiris-rex/
Messages to Bennu: http://www.planetary.org/get-involved/messages/bennu/
OSIRIS-REx facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OSIRISREx
OSIRIS-REx on Twitter: https://twitter.com/OSIRISREx
Dante S. Lauretta
OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator
OSIRIS-REx Deputy Principal Investigator
Daniel Stolte | University of Arizona
Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials
21.09.2016 | Universität Basel
Magnetic polaron imaged for the first time
19.09.2016 | Aalto University
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.
In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...
Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.
K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...
23.09.2016 | Event News
20.09.2016 | Event News
16.09.2016 | Event News
23.09.2016 | Life Sciences
23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine
23.09.2016 | Life Sciences