How Do We Know When We Have Collected a Sample of Bennu?

dslauretta

Guest Blogger: Kevin Walsh

A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision, and I will describe some of the important factors of that decision below.

Just as important – after our first attempt to collect a sample – is the decision whether or not to stow the sample and return home, or stay at Bennu and try to collect more (or some) material. This decision needs to be made in 10 days. These are vastly different timescales – nine months versus 10 days, but both are important to the success of the mission.

Figure 1: Artist view looking from the spacecraft down at the extended arm, and the sampling device during the descent to the surface. Figure 1: Artist view looking from the spacecraft down at the extended arm, and the sampling device during the descent to the surface.

Sampleability

The OSIRIS-REx mission will spend nearly nine…

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