LPL Newsletter for November 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020

October 2020 began with the OSIRIS-REx team nervously awaiting the first attempt to sample the asteroid Bennu. When the fateful day came, on Oct. 20, everything seemed to go well. In the following days, it turned out that the only problem was that the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sampling technique worked too well, and so much material was collected that some of it was drifting away. That does, however, mean that the spacecraft will be able to return far more material to Earth than the minimum the team had hoped for. For your reading pleasure, we have several articles from the days before and after the sampling maneuver, and you can see how the story unfolded. You can also watch OSIRIS-REx tag Bennu and then watch as it stows the collected sample.

Of course, OSIRIS-REx is only one of many projects underway at LPL. Next month, we'll feature some of our other science and researchers—but for the moment, we recognize the awesome and history-making achievement of the OSIRIS-REx team.

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Director and Department Head
OSIRIS-REx above Bennu

OSIRIS-REx Successfully Touches Asteroid Bennu in Sample Grab

Ten years after NASA selected LPL to lead the OSIRIS-REx mission, the spacecraft successfully completed its most treacherous and rewarding task: sample collection.

OSIRIS-REx sampler head

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Collects Significant Amount of Asteroid 

The spacecraft bit off more than it could chew, so the mission team expedited stowing the sample for the return trip home.

Taken on Oct. 28 by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, this image shows the collector head after it was separated from the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm. Collector head is secured onto the capture ring in the Sample Return Capsule.NASA/Goddard

OSIRIS-REx Successfully Stows Sample of Asteroid Bennu

The mission team spent two days working around the clock to carry out the stowage procedure.

UArizona President Robbins and OSIRIS-REx team celebrate success

UArizona Mission Members Celebrate OSIRIS-REx Success

Members of the LPL-led OSIRIS-REx mission, along with UArizona leadership, gathered to watch NASA's live broadcast of the mission's much-anticipated Touch-and-Go, or TAG, sampling event.

LPL Professor Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx PI, with models of Bennu and spacecraft

What Touching an Asteroid Can Teach Us

NASA made history on Oct. 20 with its first-ever sample collection maneuver at an asteroid. LPL professor Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission, discusses the significance of the mission for science and society.

Illustration of OSIRIS-REx TAGSAM Head on Surface of Bennu

Why Scooping a Sample from an Asteroid is Harder than it Looks

The first detailed images of Bennu's surface surprised the mission team by revealing a rocky surface littered with house-sized boulders.

Color profile of asteroid Bennu

An Asteroid of a Different Color...and Other Secrets of Bennu Unlocked

The LPL-led OSIRIS-REx mission collected a sample from asteroid Bennu on its first attempt. But before even touching the surface, scientists were learning about the material that makes up the asteroid.

Image shows four views of asteroid Bennu along with a corresponding global mosaic. Images were taken on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s PolyCam camera, which is part of the OCAMS instrument suite designed by UArizona scientists and engineers.

Asteroid's Scars Tell Stories of its Past

Impact craters left by space debris in the boulders on asteroid Bennu's rugged surface allowed researchers to reconstruct the history of the near-Earth object in unprecedented detail.