NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will make history when it returns to Earth with samples of the asteroid Bennu on October 24. As the first U.S. mission to collect a sample from an asteroid, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission will provide an unprecedented glimpse into the origins of the universe, how the planets formed, how life began, and asteroids that could one day impact Earth.
With Redwire’s Coarse Sun Sensor (CSS) units onboard, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully traveled to Bennu, gathered samples, and is about to return to Earth. The CSS is responsible for the spacecraft’s solar array pointing, sun acquisition and fail-safe recovery operations. The Coarse Sun Sensor Detector is a navigational instrument used by spacecraft to detect the position of the sun for navigation and pointing.
After orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Bennu for nearly two years, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully captured sample collections from Bennu on October 22, 2021, and began its return to Earth. When it arrives to Earth, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will release the sample capsule for landing in Utah. The sample from will give scientists a window into the time when the Sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago.
After returning the sample, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will continue for nine more years to reach asteroid Apophis for the OSIRIS-APEX mission. Apophis will come within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029. OSIRIS-APEX will study changes in the asteroid caused by its close flyby of Earth.
This isn’t the only asteroid mission Redwire technology has enabled: JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission to asteroid Ryugu and, most recently, NASA’s Double Redirection Test (DART) mission, the first planetary defense test mission, both had Redwire navigation technology onboard. The CSS was also onboard the Orion spacecraft as part of NASA’s Artemis I mission.
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