Two sides of Bennu as imaged by the OSIRIS-REx approaching closer by the hour! Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Two sides of Bennu as imaged by the OSIRIS-REx approaching closer by the hour! Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Hello Lifeforms!

Welcome back to another segment of Universe Playpen! This Monday, we’re looking at the exciting missions ongoing or upcoming for asteroids in the Solar System!

OSISRIS-REx: Today marks the last course correction maneuver for this small spacecraft to reach in synchronous orbit with the asteroid Bennu! It will then arrive at Bennu on December 3rd, 2018! It will then orbit the asteroid and look for a target site. Once the target site is selected, the maneuver Touch-and-Go will be put into play! This is where an arm of OSIRIS-REx will scoop the surface for up to 5 seconds. From there, more course corrections will occur to bring back the sample to Earth!

 OSIRIS-REx in the clean room at Lockheed Martin in April 2016 after the completion of testing and the final stowage of the TAGSAM arm. Image credit: University of Arizona/Christine Hoekenga

OSIRIS-REx in the clean room at Lockheed Martin in April 2016 after the completion of testing and the final stowage of the TAGSAM arm. Image credit: University of Arizona/Christine Hoekenga

PSYCHE: This in-the-works mission, set to launch in 2022, will have 4 scientific instruments to study the metal-rich asteroid, Psyche. Psyche has many theories as to its origin, so having a mission dedicated to this asteroid will help determine many characteristics of metal-heavy asteroids- possibly even theories on planetary core formation!

 NASA-JPL mock-up of the design for Psyche orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL

NASA-JPL mock-up of the design for Psyche orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL

ARRM: NASA is very keen on Near Earth Object (NEO) safety. This mission, the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM), still on the drawing board, will hope to develop technologies on redirecting asteroids to orbit the Moon or further out (away from Earth essentially!)

 Preliminary design of the arm mechanics for ARRM. Image credit: NASA

Preliminary design of the arm mechanics for ARRM. Image credit: NASA

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a look at winter seasons on other planets!