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OSIRIS-REx: What to know as UA booster arrives during asteroid Monday

The booster OSIRIS-REx, operated by a University of Arizona, is scheduled to arrive during a end on a apart asteroid on Monday after a two-year tour covering 2 million miles.

The mission’s idea is to collect and lapse to Earth a sample from a asteroid, that would be a initial for a NASA space mission.

The SUV-sized spacecaft is scheduled to arrive during a Bennu asteroid about 10 a.m. Arizona time with NASA broadcasting live coverage from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. from the Lockheed Martin space trickery in Denver.

On Monday, a open can watch live as scientists and engineers endorse either a booster has dismissed a rocket engines, a vicious step that will concede a qualification to scheme into position for flyovers. 

“We’re kind of like an aircraft that’s doing reconnaissance,” said Dante Lauretta, a UA highbrow of heavenly scholarship and the mission’s principal investigator.

OSIRIS-REx has been coming a asteroid given August, capturing images as it slows from 1,000 mph to around a few miles per hour. 

“You could be walking faster toward a asteroid than a booster is going,” now, Lauretta said. 

Here are 5 things to know about a mission:

Once booster arrives, then what?

OSIRIS-REx will spend some-more than a year evaluating a asteroid. The booster will fly over a asteroid’s north pole, equator and south stick to within 4.4 miles of a surface. 

The maneuvers will capacitate scientists and engineers to map, magnitude and observe a aspect of a asteroid, that is a third of a mile across.

“All of 2019 is mapping and exploring and anticipating a ‘X outlines a spot’ symbol where we wish to get a sample,” Lauretta said. 

Scientists will demeanour for an area that’s giveaway of vast rocks and high slopes, that could repairs or tip over a spacecraft. They’ll also demeanour for a place with abounding aspect debris.

“Obviously, drifting into a aspect of an asteroid is a severe event,” Lauretta said. “That’s since we’re holding a time.”


How to collect an asteroid sample?

The booster won’t land on a asteroid to collect a sample. Instead, a qualification will scheme close. A 9-foot robotic arm with an trustworthy filter will trap gravel and dirt inside. 

The filter is designed to collect adult from 2 ounces to 4 pounds of material. 

In box a initial pass fails, scientists and engineers have dual some-more opportunities to get it right. 

Sample collection is scheduled for Jul 2020.

Once a representation is collected, a OSIRIS-REx can’t immediately conduct behind to Earth. It has to wait until a asteroid’s circuit will concede it to conduct toward Earth, that doesn’t occur until Mar 2021. 

The outing behind isn’t quick. It will take 2½ years.

MORE: How OSIRIS-REx will move behind pieces of an asteroid


How does representation get behind to Earth?

The booster arrives nearby Earth in late Sep 2023. 

A few hours before reaching Earth’s atmosphere, a qualification will sale a plug containing a representation and put it on a arena to a planet. 

The plug will strike a Earth’s atmosphere during about 28,000 mph, giveaway descending until a parachute deploys. The categorical parachute is designed to recover about 2 miles above a Earth, and land in a Utah desert, about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City.

From there, NASA will take a plug to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where officials will open it and sunder a essence for study. 

What happens to a spacecraft?

The booster won’t land in a dried since it’s not versed with alighting gear. After jettisoning a capsule, a qualification will scheme itself into an circuit around a sun. 

NASA will still be means to promulgate with a craft, supposing a solar panels are operative and recharge a batteries. But once OSIRIS-REx runs out of fuel, NASA won’t be means to change a trajectory.