NASA Goddard delivers OVIRS spectrometer to optimize sample collection on asteroid Bennu

July 13, 2015
A spectrometer that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin.

IMAGE: In a clean room facility near Denver, CO, Lockheed Martin technicians continue assembling NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft that will collect samples of an asteroid. (Image credit: Lockheed Martin)

A spectrometer that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin for installation onto NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx. The The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, instrument measures visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu that can be used to identify water and organic materials. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD) built the instrument.

RELATED ARTICLE: Laser instruments earn their place in space for communications and lidar

"The delivery of OVIRS to the spacecraft means the mission now has the capability to measure the minerals and chemicals at the sample site on Bennu," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona (UA; Tucson, AZ). "I greatly appreciate the hard work and innovation the OVIRS team demonstrated during the creation of this instrument."

OVIRS, a point spectrometer, will split the light from Bennu into its component wavelengths, similar to a prism that splits sunlight into a rainbow, but over a much broader range of wavelengths. Different chemicals have unique spectral signatures by absorbing sunlight and can be identified in the reflected spectrum. The spectra provided by the instrument will help guide sample site selection on the asteroid.

"Through the team's efforts, OVIRS has become a remarkably capable instrument, which we expect to return exciting science from the asteroid Bennu," said Dennis Reuter, OVIRS instrument lead from Goddard.

After thorough testing with the spacecraft on the ground, the instrument will be powered on for check-out shortly after launch, with first science data collected during the Earth gravity assist in September 2017. OSIRIS-Rex is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. It will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, and bring back to Earth a sample of at least 2.1 ounces for study. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

"The OVIRS team has met all of their technical requirements," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is another step in completing the spacecraft and sending it on its way to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the UA. Lockheed Martin Space Systems (Denver, CO) is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, AL) manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

SOURCE: University of Arizona;

Sponsored Recommendations

Next generation tunable infrared lasers

Nov. 28, 2023
Discussion of more powerful and stable quantum cascade tunable infrared lasers, applications, and test results.

What AI demands mean for data centers

Nov. 28, 2023
The 2023 Photonics-Enabled Cloud Computing Summit assembled by Optica took an aggressive approach to calling out the limitations of today’s current technologies.

SLP feature for lighting control available on cameras offering

Nov. 28, 2023
A proprietary structured light projector (SLP) feature is now available on the company’s camera series, including the ace 2, boost R, ace U, and ace L.

Chroma Customer Spotlight - Dr. David Warshaw, About his Lab

Nov. 27, 2023
David Warshaw, Professor and Chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Vermont (UVM), walks us through his lab. Learn about his lab’s work with the protein...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!