NASA Releases Incredible Video of OSIRIS-REx Tagging Asteroid – Mysterious Dark Patches Puzzle Team

Captured on October 20, 2020, during the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, this series of images shows the navigation camera’s (NavCam 2) field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches, touches, and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface. The sampling event brought the spacecraft all the way down to sample site Nightingale, and the team on Earth received confirmation of a successful touchdown at 6:08 pm EDT. Preliminary data show the sampling head touched Bennu’s surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

These images were captured over an approximately three-hour period – the imaging sequence begins approximately one hour after the orbit departure maneuver and ends approximately two minutes after the back-away burn. In the middle of the sequence, the spacecraft slews, or rotates, so that NavCam 2 looks away from Bennu, toward space. OSIRIS-REx then performs a final slew to point the camera (and the sampling arm) toward the surface again.

As the spacecraft nears site Nightingale, the sampling arm’s shadow comes into view in the lower part of the frame. Shortly after, the sampling head impacts site Nightingale (just outside the camera’s field of view to the upper right) and fires a nitrogen gas bottle, which mobilizes a substantial amount of the sample site’s material. Several seconds later, the spacecraft performs a back-away burn and the sampling arm’s shadow is visible against the disturbed surface material.

The team continues to investigate what caused the extremely dark areas visible in the upper and middle parts of the frame. The upper area could be the edge of the depression created by the sampling arm, a strong shadow cast by material lofted from the surface, or some combination of the two. Similarly, the middle dark region that first appears in the lower left of the image could be a depression caused by one of the spacecraft thrusters as it fired, a shadow caused by lofted material, or a combination of both.

The sequence was created using 189 images taken by the spacecraft’s NavCam 2 camera. NavCam 2 captured images for the spacecraft’s Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) navigation system. The NFT system allowed the spacecraft to autonomously guide itself to Bennu’s surface by comparing real-time images with an onboard image catalog. During the sample collection event, the NavCam 2 camera continuously imaged Bennu’s surface so that the NFT system could update the spacecraft’s position and velocity relative to Bennu as it descended towards the targeted touchdown point.

NavCam 2, a panchromatic (black-and-white) imager, is one of three cameras comprising TAGCAMS (the Touch-and-Go Camera System), which is part of OSIRIS-REx’s guidance, navigation, and control system. TAGCAMS was designed, built, and tested by Malin Space Science Systems; Lockheed Martin Space integrated TAGCAMS to the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and operates TAGCAMS.

24 Comments on "NASA Releases Incredible Video of OSIRIS-REx Tagging Asteroid – Mysterious Dark Patches Puzzle Team"

  1. I wish I had a longer life so I can see what these guys could pull off next time.

    • There are cool space related events all the time. Elon will hopefully be testing latest version of his starship rocket this week which is supposed to do some belly flop maneuver. A little longer term we should be sending people to the moon in less then 4 years. I think it’s a very exciting time for space.

  2. “Space, the final frontier…..”

  3. Amazing that they were able to completely revise the mission parameters on the go for a totally different collection scenario using a completely different method of navigating when Bennu didn’t turn out to be what they expected. Max kudos to the whole team that managed to pull it off.

  4. Collecting a sample of this type. Without being exposed to heat from entering the atmosphere. Could possibly add to viruses currently on Earth.

  5. Fred Dinwiddie | November 3, 2020 at 11:28 am | Reply

    How many times can you write “back-away burn”???? Or, “slew.” It didn’t show up very much. But then

    “In the middle of the sequence, the spacecraft slews, or rotates”

    Thanks for telling us what “slew” means. Why would you think you have to define a word? Can’t you just say “rotate” instead? I know, you wanted to sound smart by writing “slew.” Transparent much?

    • Fred Getsdiddled | November 3, 2020 at 11:33 am | Reply

      Pedantic much? That means being annoying by correcting small errors, fyi.

    • Yes, I’m quite sure that the authors of the article just wanted to “look smart.”
      Or maybe it simply seems that way to you for *some* reason.

  6. The surface of this asteroid reminds me of Super Mario galaxy where you were in space running around the planetoids and some of the objects on the surface were huge in comparison to the planetoid.

  7. It’s an alian space ship camoed out to look and feel like an astroid and it’s headed for Earth with plans only they know

  8. Those mysterious dark patches are called……shadows…🤣

  9. SteviewitDaFatweeniE | November 3, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Reply

    Look like sum footprints to me prior to touching for “6” secs. So theyre sayin that it bounced back lookin away from tha s*** when they wer tryna see wut exactly it did so quickly as if sumthin launched or threw it back n spun tha cameras away so they cudnt see?? Is that wut im getn “between tha lines” in ” layman’s terms”..? Right on! 😒

  10. Wanna buy a model of Bennu ?

    • Rabb:

      Bennu sounds like a great model name for a compact sedan (hybrid perhaps) from a European automaker, doesn’t it?

  11. This is bull picture in the desert somewhere

  12. Jean luc picard | November 4, 2020 at 8:21 am | Reply

    I left my wallet on bennu ,wonder if they could pick it up up for me before aliens get my credit cards

  13. I think our Space Program needs all the encouragement and PMA it can get.Shame, Shame on all of you that be little their effort to keep us informed. And Damn the negitive additudes. Again, I say unto thee, “Shame,Shame”.

  14. It seems to be covered with high carbon mettle and rocky surface.

  15. Didn’t Nasir by “tagging” the astroid actually change its orbit or trajectory?

    How do we know that stuff that the spacecraft is bringing back it’s not full of some sort of disease germs that will kill everybody on the planet that is unless COVID-19 gets his first

  16. How long would it take a ship of people to get to a new planet

  17. Who needs a new planet? Just get rid of some life forms that are on this one and terraform the areas that need it.🤴👸

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