NASA’s University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission has effectively stowed the shuttle’s Sample Return Capsule and its plentiful example of space rock Bennu. On Oct. 28, the mission group sent orders to the shuttle, educating it to close the container—denoting the finish of one of the most testing periods of the mission.
“I’m very thankful that our team worked so hard to get this sample stowed as quickly as they did,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx head specialist and an educator planetary sciences at the University of Arizona. “Now, we can look forward to receiving the sample here on Earth and opening up that capsule.”
“This achievement by OSIRIS-REx on behalf of NASA and the world has lifted our vision to the higher things we can achieve together, as teams and nations,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Together, a team comprising industry, academia and international partners, and a talented and diverse team of NASA employees with all types of expertise, has put us on course to vastly increase our collection on Earth of samples from space. Samples like this are going to transform what we know about our universe and ourselves, which is at the base of all NASA’s endeavors.”
The mission group went through two days working nonstop to do the stowage strategy, with arrangements for the stowage function starting Oct. 24. The cycle to stow the example is interesting contrasted with other shuttle activities and required the group’s consistent oversight and contribution over the two-day time frame.
For the shuttle to continue with each progression in the stowage arrangement, the group needed to survey pictures and telemetry from the past advance to affirm the activity was effective and the rocket was prepared to proceed. Given that OSIRIS-REx is as of now in excess of 205 million miles from Earth, this necessary the group to likewise work with a more prominent than 18.5-minute time delay for signals going toward every path.
All through the cycle, the OSIRIS-REx group consistently surveyed the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism’s wrist arrangement to guarantee the gatherer head was being set appropriately into the Sample Return Capsule.
Also, the group examined pictures to watch any material getting away from the authority head to affirm that no particles would thwart the stowage cycle. StowCam pictures of the stowage grouping show that a couple of particles evaded during the stowage method, yet the group is certain that a copious measure of material remaining parts within the head.
“Given the complexity of the process to place the sample collector head onto the capture ring, we expected that it would take a few attempts to get it in the perfect position,” said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx venture administrator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Fortunately, the head was captured on the first try, which allowed us to expeditiously execute the stow procedure.”
By the night of Oct. 27, the rocket’s Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or TAGSAM, arm had put the authority head into the Sample Return Capsule.
The next morning, the OSIRIS-REx group confirmed that the gatherer head was altogether affixed into the container by playing out a “backout check.” This succession directed the TAGSAM arm to endeavor to retreat from the case—which pulled on the authority head and guaranteed the locks are very much made sure about.
“I want to thank the OSIRIS-REx team from the University of Arizona, NASA Goddard, Lockheed Martin, and their partners, and also especially the SCaN and Deep Space Network people at NASA and JPL, who worked tirelessly to get us the bandwidth we needed to achieve this milestone, early and while still hundreds of millions of miles away,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s partner executive for science at the office’s base camp in Washington, D.C. “What we have done is a real first for NASA, and we will benefit for decades by what we have been able to achieve at Bennu.”
On the evening of Oct. 28, following the backout check, the mission group sent orders to separate the two mechanical parts on the TAGSAM arm that interface the sampler head to the arm.
The spacecraft first cut the cylinder that conveyed the nitrogen gas that worked up the example through the TAGSAM head during test assortment, and afterward isolated the gatherer head from the TAGSAM arm itself.
That night, the rocket finished the last advance of the example stowage measure – shutting the Sample Return Capsule. To make sure about the case, the rocket shut the cover and afterward secured two inner locks. Starting late Oct. 28, the example of Bennu is securely put away and prepared for its journey to Earth.
The stowage cycle, initially planned to start toward the beginning of November, was sped up after example assortment when the mission group got pictures that indicated the shuttle’s authority head flooding with material.
The pictures demonstrated that the shuttle gathered well more than 2 ounces, or 60 grams, of Bennu’s surface material, and that a portion of these particles gave off an impression of being gradually getting away from the head. A mylar fold intended to keep the example inside the head seemed, by all accounts, to be wedged open by some bigger rocks. Since the head is secure inside the Sample Return Capsule, bits of the example will at this point don’t be lost.
The OSIRIS-REx group will currently zero in on setting up the rocket for the following period of the mission—Earth Return Cruise. The flight window opens in March 2021 for OSIRIS-REx to start its journey home, and the rocket is focusing on conveyance of the Sample Return Capsule to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.
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