OVIRS Development – Rising From the Ashes

The OVIRS optic box’s series of unfortunate events.

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Guest Bloggers: Jason Hair, Dennis Reuter, and Amy Simon

Building a mission or an instrument is not for the faint of heart. While engineering teams develop plans to avoid major mishaps, sometimes even the best laid plans aren’t enough. A case in point is a series of unfortunate events that happened to the OVIRS instrument in July 2014.

OVIRS is a spectrometer that will be searching for very small changes in the amount of light reflected from the surface of Bennu over a wide range of visible and infrared wavelengths. These changes may tell us a lot about the composition of the asteroid: What minerals are there?   Are there organic molecules present? Has anything collided with Bennu? Because these changes in reflected light are small, we have to make sure that light scattering off surfaces inside the instrument isn’t fooling us. Therefore it is necessary to coat the bare aluminum…

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