Today history is being made as NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx arrives at asteroid Bennu after first launching in September 2016. It’s been a long journey, but the journey’s not over. In fact, it’s just beginning tomorrow. The live stream above will be running other programming from NASA until the stream begins.
The arrival is scheduled to happen between 11:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Eastern on Monday, December 3, 2018, which is when the official live stream above begins. However, the live stream will also have pre-show programming that begins at 11:15 a.m. Eastern, 30 minutes before the actual events start.
NASA notes that participants in the live stream coverage will include:
- Michelle Thaller, moderator, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
- Heather Enos, OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, University of Arizona, Tucson
- Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
- Mark Fisher, OSIRIS-REx spacecraft engineer, Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colo.
- Coralie Adam, OSIRIS-REx flight navigator, KinetX, Inc. Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics, Simi Valley, Calif.
This is only the beginning of the journey. Once arriving at its destination, OSIRIS-REx will spend a year-and-a-half surveying the asteroid and preparing to collect a sample that it will later return to Earth. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023. The sample will be returned to Earth through a freefall method from space. Once it’s at an altitude of about 20.8 miles, it will deploy the first of two parachutes for a landing in Utah. Here’s a video below describing that return trip:
As the craft approaches Bennu, it sends back stunning imagery to NASA. You can see the photos here. Bennu is about 500 meters in diameter, and scientists hope that its composition has been unchanged for about 4.5 billion years, Wired reported. We could learn a great deal from analyzing the return sample.
This is NASA’s first mission to a near-Earth asteroid.
Note: OSIRIS-REx is not landing on the asteroid today. It’s arriving, and then will spend a few weeks surveying the asteroid with low flyovers. It will enter the asteroid’s orbit on New Year’s Eve, NASA currently plans. The craft will never actually touch the asteroid’s surface, but instead will hover over the surface close enough to get a sample. This part will be done around mid-2020. OSIRIS-REx will then depart Bennu in 2021.