Practice makes perfect. Nobody knows this perfectly well than the people over at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In order to make sure everything is all set and perfectly working for its latest OSIRIS-REx mission, NASA has been conducting preparations for a rehearsal scheduled next week to make sure everything happens smoothly, according to plan.
Slated to happen on August 11, a Tuesday, the rehearsal sequence will include a complete practice of what is expected to happen during the actual thing. The whole affair will be executed with experts observing closely throughout the whole process – from the descent, collection of samples, to its eventual return after the successful gathering of samples.
OSIRIS-REx or ‘Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer’ is a craft built by Lockheed Martin. It is on a mission to collect samples on the asteroid Bennu.
This is not the first time OSIRIS-Rex has conducted an undertaking like this before. It did one way back April with the same procedure but the one scheduled next week will add a third maneuver and will attempt to fly closer to the asteroid.
The whole affair will be done with no supervision from Earth. Due to the delay in data traveling considering the considerable distance between the craft and its commanders back on Earth, specialists over at NASA will prepare the craft and the codes necessary for it to perform independently all the important points of the mission. Due to the slow data transmission rate, the data collected by the craft including photos, logs, etc. will only be downloaded after the whole practice has been over. No real-time updates for this one.
The same thing will happen during the actual mission event scheduled to take place in October.
All of the data collected will be used by scientists to recalibrate, if necessary, certain parts of the mission’s itinerary. If all goes ahead without hitches according to plan, the mission control team will direct the craft back to its safe zone with all of the commands and codes intact for the actual mission almost two months from now.
The personnel involved in the practice will be closely monitoring how it will unfold while practicing social distancing measures while the others participate remotely.
NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex aims to provide scientists more information about how the early solar system formed. Also, it aims to give them an idea of life started. Its mission to the Bennu asteroid can open the doors to a greater understanding of how asteroids could impact our planet in the years to come.
The Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is in charge of the mission’s overall management, systems engineering, and safety control. It is set to return on September 24, 2023.