This week, NASA will likely be making an attempt a most impressive feat: It can try to the touch down its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on the floor of asteroid Bennu to gather a pattern. The pattern will then be introduced again to Earth for examine. Studying extra concerning the composition of this asteroid may assist scientists perceive extra about how planets kind, and will even give clues to the origin of life on Earth.

The spacecraft will contact down on a web site known as Nightingale and attempt to scoop up not less than two kilos of soil from the asteroid. However as a result of OSIRIS-REx is so distant from Earth, the engineers at mission management received’t be capable to management it in real-time. They’ll ship directions to the craft which is able to then carry out the advanced method and touch-down maneuver autonomously.

This would be the first time NASA has tried to gather a pattern from an asteroid, and you’ll watch the drama unfold reside on NASA TV.

When and the place the OSIRIS-REx mission is occurring

An artist's impression of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission readying itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu.
An artist’s impression of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission readying itself to the touch the floor of asteroid Bennu. NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona

The mission is slated to happen at 3:12 p.m. PT on Tuesday, October 20. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will start its orbit departure maneuver at round 10:50 a.m. PT, when it can start to method the asteroid. If you wish to comply with together with each step of this course of, you’ll be able to take a look at the official OSIRIS-REx Twitter account.

At 2 p.m. PT, the reside protection of the mission will start. The craft will start preparations for performing the “Contact-and-Go” or TAG maneuver, by which it can method the asteroid, slowing right down to a mild velocity, then contact the floor of the asteroid and scoop up a sample utilizing its robotic arm.

The mission will likely be managed by Lockheed Martin Area close to Denver, with changes in place to maintain the mission management personnel secure from coronavirus.

How you can watch the mission and the pre-mission actions

The mission itself will likely be proven reside on NASA TV, which you’ll be able to watch both utilizing the video embedded on the prime of this web page or on NASA’s website.

Earlier than the launch, there are two briefings that you may watch to study extra concerning the mission: At 10 a.m. PT on Monday, October 19, there will likely be an Asteroid Science and Planetary Protection teleconference with Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director, NASA Headquarters, Washington; Hal Levison, Lucy mission principal investigator, Southwest Analysis Institute, Boulder, Colorado; Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Psyche mission principal investigator, Arizona State College, Tempe; Andrea Riley, DART mission program govt, NASA Headquarters; and Jamie Elsila, analysis scientist at NASA Goddard Area Flight Middle, Greenbelt, Maryland.

At 12 p.m. PT on Monday, October 19, there will likely be a televised OSIRIS-REx Science and Engineering briefing with Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington; Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director, NASA Headquarters; Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, College of Arizona, Tucson; Kenneth Getzandanner, OSIRIS-REx flight dynamics supervisor, Goddard; and Beth Buck, OSIRIS-REx mission operations program supervisor, Lockheed Martin Area, Littleton, Colorado.

On the day of the mission, Tuesday, October 20, from 1o:20 a.m. PT, NASA TV will present a reside animation of OSIRIS-REx approaching the asteroid, after which from 2 p.m. PT there will likely be a reside broadcast of the landing from Lockheed Martin.

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