Автор Anatoly Zak, 26.05.2011 08:53:55
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Цитата Dante Lauretta @DSLauretta The @OSIRISREx rocket fairing has arrived @NASAKennedy - one step closer to launch #ToBennuAndBack ! 5:11 - 27 июл. 2016 г.
ЦитатаBuildup of unusual launcher begins for NASA's asteroid sample return mission August 8, 2016 Justin Ray File photo of first Atlas 5-411 launch in 2006 with ASTRA 1KR satellite. Credit: Pat Corkery/Lockheed Martin CAPE CANAVERAL -- It is a rocket like no other, a vehicle with a single solid-fuel booster mounted to its side, that will launch NASA's OSIRIS-REx probe next month to bring back a sample of Asteroid Bennu.The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the unique 411 configuration, which has successfully flown three times before, is scheduled for liftoff Sept. 8.Stacking of the vehicle aboard the mobile launch platform began with the first stage this morning at Cape Canaveral's Vertical Integration Facility at Complex 41 for the much-anticipated mission.The lone solid will be attached tomorrow and the pre-assembled interstage, Centaur upper stage and boattail will be lifted into place on Wednesday.Initial powerup of the rocket occurs on Thursday and the Combined Systems Test, which is the critical electrical checkout of the vehicle, will follow next Monday, Aug. 15."Fr om Monday to Monday, we should have the entire mechanical stack complete and the initial power sequence coupled with the Combined Systems Test. So it's going to go pretty quick," said Tim Dunn, NASA's launch director for OSIRIS-REx from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Services Program. File photos of Atlas 5 stacking process. Credit: United Launch Alliance The strange-looking rocket is all part of the "dial-a-rocket" approach that designers took when creating the Atlas 5 family of vehicles to tailor each launch to the payload. The unconventional 411 variant is not too strong and not too weak, providing just the right amount of power for OSIRIS-REx.The configuration is unique because rockets typically fly with either no strap-on boosters or multiple motors. While the appearance is stark, many Atlas 5 launches have flown successfully with uneven numbers of boosters attached to the first stage, like the 551 version with three on one side and two on the other.The SRB's stationary nozzle is oriented to mitigate the offset thrust, leaving the Atlas 5's dual-nozzle main engine to provide the control authority to steer the rocket smoothly through the sky."It is unique and different," said Dunn. "The first part of the question is why only one solid? The easy answer there is performance. We needed just a little more performance than the basic 401 could provide. The addition of one solid rocket booster satisfies that...and getting the mass of OSIRIS-REx on its way to the asteroid."Then, how do you fly with that one solid hanging off the side? In simplest terms, you let the flight control systems of the Atlas 5 sort it all out. It is a fixed nozzle on the solid strap-on but you have the two vectorable nozzles from the RD-180 engine. They can easily adjust slightly to offset that single thrust moment that is coming from one particular side of the Atlas 5."The actuators that steer the nozzles in the pitch and yaw directions, and can also roll the vehicle, they counteract the asymmetrical thrust from the single solid to enable the rocket to fly straight as we like it to." File photo of first Atlas 5-411 launch in 2006 with ASTRA 1KR satellite. Credit: Pat Corkery/Lockheed Martin Three earlier 411 launches successfully lofted the commercial European TV satellite, called ASTRA 1KR, from Cape Canaveral in 2006 and two National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite deployment missions -- NROL-28 and NROL-34 -- from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2008 and 2011. All were performed nominally.The rocket will come off the pad with 1.2 million pounds of thrust from the RD-180 main engine and solid rocket booster. The lone SRB consumes all of its propellant in about 90 seconds, providing the Atlas 5 an added kick during the initial climb away from the planet. The spent casing then jettisons and leaves the first stage's main engine to continue burning until about four minutes into flight before it separates from the Centaur upper stage.After two burns by the Centaur, lasting 8 minutes to reach a parking orbit and then 7 minutes to escape onto the interplanetary trajectory, NASA's OSIRIS-REx will separate an hour into the launch to begin its 7-year, roundtrip voyage to collect a sample of Asteroid Bennu and return it to scientific laboratories on Earth."We are very excited at participating in a mission bringing a sample of an asteroid back to Earth. That is very exciting," Dunn said. Atlas 5-411 successfully flies in 2006 with the ASTRA 1KR satellite. Credit: ILS video The spacecraft has a tight launch window stretching to Oct. 12 to depart Earth or it will miss the planetary alignment between Earth and Bennu for a year. To ensure the rocket will be ready, crews will move the Atlas-Centaur vehicle from its assembly building to the launch pad on Tuesday, Aug. 23 for a countdown rehearsal and fueling exercise on Wednesday, Aug.24. The Wet Dress Rehearsal is meant to uncover any technical problems that need addressed before the actual launch day.ULA eliminated WDRs for East Coast launches of its Atlas 5 rocket, saving nearly a week of processing time, except for specific NASA missions that must fly in planetary alignment windows."We have an actual option in the contract for our planetary missions wh ere we can turn on the ability to do the WDR," Dunn said. "And what that does is it buys down risk early. If we find something during Wet Dress Rehearsal, it beats finding it on the day of launch."While the WDR is going on, OSIRIS-REx will be encapsulated within the rocket's aluminum nose cone at KSC's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The fairing is 14 feet in diameter and 39 feet long.After WDR, the rocket then returns to the Vertical Integration Facility on Thursday, Aug. 25 to await attachment of the OSIRIS-REx payload on Monday, Aug. 29. The 4,650-pound spacecraft, already shrouded in the fairing, will be hoisted into the VIF and mated to the Centaur."Once we get clear of the Wet Dress Rehearsal, then we know we are ready to bring the spacecraft out," Dunn said.The tip-to-tail electrical check of the Atlas 5 rocket and the mated OSIRIS-REx spacecraft -- called the Integrated Systems Test -- is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 31. The Flight Readiness Review occurs on Thursday, Sept. 1 to assess the progress of work and any outstanding issues, followed by the Mission Dress Rehearsal for control room staff on Friday, Sept. 2 and then a quiet Labor Day Weekend of just monitoring spacecraft health.The Launch Readiness Review to give approval to proceed with the mission is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6.The fully assembled vehicle standing 189 feet tall will be rolled out to the pad on Wednesday, Sept. 7 for the countdown and launch on Thursday evening, Sept. 8. The OSIRIS-REx logo. Credit: NASA There will be 25 opportunities to launch OSIRIS-REx each day. The rocket will have distinct shots to fly every five minutes during a two-hour window.The daily window always opens around 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) and extends two full hours for all but a few days. Given the time-critical nature of the launch, the Air Force-controlled Eastern Range has reserved three consecutive days for OSIRIS-REx instead of the usual two days before negotiating for more, if needed.*Sept. 8: 7:05 to 9:05 p.m. EDT (2305-0105 GMT) *Sept. 9: 7:10 to 9:10 p.m. EDT (2310-0110 GMT) *Sept. 10: 7:05 to 9:05 p.m. EDT (2305-0105 GMT)"The way targeting works, if we tried to launch at any time for this mission during the window, you would have 60 opportunities per minute, then 60 minutes per hour, times two. There would have been a whole lot of cases to analyze. To make it easier on ourselves with a two-hour window, we broke it into five-minute blocks," Dunn said.Statistically, a two-hour window for Atlas 5 provides a strong likelihood of getting off the ground.OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with the Near-Earth Object Bennu two years after launch and slip into orbit around the asteroid to conduct nearly a year of surveying work with its instruments to map the chemistry and mineralogy of the carbon-rich body. An artist's concept of OSIRIS-REx reaching out to Bennu. Credit: NASA The craft carries a camera suite that will document the asteroid, search for moons, image in color and features an 8-inch telescope, a laser altimeter to map the shape of Bennu, a thermal emission spectrometer for mineral and temperature data, a visible and infrared spectrometer to identify organic material and a student-made X-ray imaging spectrometer that seeks to determine what elements are present on the asteroid's surface.Then, on July 4, 2020, the small probe will use its 11-foot-long robotic arm to grab a specimen of the celestial object with a 0.22 mph touch-and-go maneuver. The spacecraft will obtain at least 2.1 ounces and possibly up to 4.4 pounds of regolith.Once stowed in the protective return capsule, OSIRIS-REx will leave Bennu in 2021 for a two-year journey back home to make a parachute-assisted landing on Earth in September 2023 at the Utah Test and Training Range.The mission hopes to gain definitive proof of what the conditions were like in the earliest stages of the solar system through the pristine material brought back by OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S.-led asteroid sample return mission.Lockheed Martin built OSIRIS-REx, which stands 10 feet tall and will be 20 feet wide once its power-producing solar arrays are deployed in space.The mission is led by the University of Arizona and Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta. The Goddard Space Flight Center manages the mission for NASA.This will be the 65th Atlas 5 rocket launch since 2002. In its 64 previous missions, the Atlas 5 has flown 25 flights dedicated to the Defense Department, 14 commercial missions, 13 for the National Reconnaissance Office and 12 for NASA.
ЦитатаPhotos: Solar arrays attached to asteroid-bound OSIRIS-REx spacecraft August 12, 2016 Justin Ray At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, workers have finished the pre-launch assembly and fueling of OSIRIS-REx for the asteroid sample return spacecraft for liftoff Sept. 8.The probe will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket en route to Asteroid Bennu to capture a specimen for return to Earth.Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the two power-producing solar arrays were attached to the spacecraft's body on Aug. 2. Once deployed in space, the wings will measure 20.25 feet tip-to-tip to generate electricity to power the mission.This week, the Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle was stacked in the nearby Vertical Integration Facility at Complex 41. And OSIRIS-REx was loaded with 2,700 pounds of propellant that will be used to maneuver the spacecraft into orbit around Bennu and boost the craft back to Earth.Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
ЦитатаВАШИНГТОН, 18 августа. /Корр. ТАСС Анатолий Бочинин/. Научный аппарат OSIRIS-REx, который должен будет взять образцы грунта на астероиде Бенну, будет запущен 8 сентября с космодрома на мысе Канаверал (штат Флорида). Об этом в среду сообщили представители NASA.OSIRIS-REx отправится к пролетающему рядом с Землей астероиду Бенну, чтобы забрать на нем образцы для их последующего активного изучения. Запуск намечен на 19:05 по времени Восточного побережья США, 8 сентября (02:00 9 сентября мск) с космодрома ВВС на мысе Канаверал", - говорится в сообщении.Как рассказала на прошедшей в тот же день пресс-конференции научный руководитель проекта Данте Лоретта, после своего старта OSIRIS-REx "отправится в семилетнее путешествие, чтобы привезти пробы с астероида Бенну". "Наша команда создала удивительный корабль, и мы готовы к тому, чтобы с его помощью исследовать Бенну и вернуть его (на Землю) с этим научным сокровищем", - сказала она.Представители NASA подтвердили, что забор образцов может произойти в июле 2020 года, а в сентябре 2023 года OSIRIS-REx вернется на Землю.OSIRIS-REx оснащен несколькими приборами и механизмами, в том числе фотокамерами, спектрометрами и лазерным высотомером. Аппарат должен выйти на орбиту вокруг Солнца, по которой вращается Бенну, догнать его и приступить к его изучению. Затем будет предпринята операция по захвату грунта с помощью руки-манипулятора, снабженной специальным пневматическим устройством. В общей сложности сотрудники NASA рассчитывают собрать от 60 граммов до 2 кг астероидного грунта.
Цитата Dante Lauretta @DSLauretta Fare Thee Well @OSIRISREx - a proud and bittersweet moment - my last visit with the spacecraft before launch 7:59 - 21 авг. 2016 г.
ЦитатаAtlas V to Launch OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return MissionAtlas V OSIRIS-REx Mission OverviewRocket/Payload:A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 configuration rocket will launch the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission for NASA.Date/Site/Launch Time:Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Launch is planned for 7:05 p.m. EDT.Webcast: Look for details about the launch broadcast closer to launch day.Launch Notes: OSIRIS-REx marks the 65th Atlas V launch and the fourth in the 411 configuration. This also will be ULA's 111th launch since the company was formed in 2006.Mission Description: The OSIRIS-REx mission will help scientists investigate the origins of our solar system, how water and organic material traveled to Earth, and increase understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. In addition, the sample returned to Earth will further our understanding of water, organics and precious metals on asteroids, which could fuel future exploration missions.Launch Updates: To keep up to speed with updates to the launch countdown, dial the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321 or join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch; hashtags #ToBennuAndBack and #AtlasV.Go Atlas! Go Centaur! Go OSIRIS-REx!
ЦитатаOne of NASA's cleanest spacecraft ever is ready to fly August 23, 2016 Stephen Clark A member of the OSIRIS-REx team prepares the spacecraft for launch Sept. 8. The Atlas 5 rocket's payload fairing is in the background. Credit: Ben Cooper/Launchphotography.com Five years after winning $1 billion fr om NASA to mount the first U.S. asteroid sample return mission, scientists and engineers will get their last look at the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft this week as it is closed up inside the nose cone of an Atlas 5 rocket for launch in September.The probe's encapsulation inside the Atlas 5's payload fairing marks the end of a multi-year campaign to ensure every piece of the spacecraft meets stringent cleanliness standards. During construction, engineers tracked contaminants wherever OSIRIS-REx went on Earth, all the way down to concentrations measured in parts per billion. Скрытый текст: Experts were especially concerned with organic residue left behind by humans and certain materials, like nylon and adhesives, normally used in the assembly of satellites.OSIRIS-REx will bring back specimens for researchers to interrogate inside high-tech labs around the world, seeking clues about the origin of life, water and the planets themselves. The results could be skewed by an unexpected microbe or spore fr om planet Earth.Small clumps of matter formed fr om a cloud of dust and gas at the dawn of the solar system. These proto-worlds grew into larger objects -- and some became full-fledged planets -- as they collided with one another, accreting more and more material along the way. Scientists believe asteroids brought the ingredients of life to Earth.Analysts will look for amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- simple and complex organic compounds, and other markers fr om asteroid Bennu, an object orbiting the sun relatively close to Earth that managers sel ected as OSIRIS-REx's target."The core of OSIRIS-REx is to return a sample to the Earth to understand the origin of the solar system, and the origin of life perhaps, and to do that we need a pristine sample," said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.For scientists and engineers working on OSIRIS-REx, this week is a turning point. It's the last time they will see the spacecraft -- the product of 12 years of research and development -- but it also means their long-held worries about contaminating the probe are nearly over."It's incredibly emotional," Dworkin said."It's hard not to tear up around the spacecraft, but I don't want to contaminate it," he joked.The schedule calls for the 4,651-pound (2,110-kilogram) spacecraft, already filled with hydrazine fuel for delicate in-space maneuvers, to be lifted on to an attach fitting this week inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, then enclosed within the Atlas 5's 13-foot diameter (4-meter) nose fairing."We have a completely fueled spacecraft that's ready to go," said Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft. "Over the next few days, what're going to do is we're actually going to lift the spacecraft onto the mechanism that will separate it fr om the top of the Centaur stage. Then we're going to. .. close it up inside of the fairing, which will then get shipped over to the launch pad and stacked on top of the overall rocket."Ground crews will position the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft between two halves of the fairing, which will peel away in flight like a clamshell, then seal the probe inside."This is the last chance really for anybody on Earth to see that hardware until the sample is back in 2023, and only the return capsule is coming back," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator fr om the University of Arizona. Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator fr om the University of Arizona. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky On Aug. 29, technicians will transport the spacecraft inside the fairing to the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 launch pad, where a crane will hoist the payload atop the Atlas 5.Engineers plan to pluck the final "remove before flight" covers from OSIRIS-REx's instruments and sensors before encapsulation. The last time anyone will put hands on the spacecraft before launch will come in the predawn hours of Sept. 6, when a technician will crawl through a special access door cut into the Atlas 5 fairing to activate OSIRIS-REx's battery system.A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will kick off the probe's seven-year journey Sept. 8. The two-hour launch window opens at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 GMT), and the mission has until Oct. 12 to depart Earth or else wait a year for the next opportunity.OSIRIS-REx will return to the vicinity of Earth in September 2017 for a gravity assist, slingshotting the probe toward asteroid Bennu, a miniature world about 1,600 feet (500 meters) across. Bennu is a rare kind of object -- scientists know it as a "B-type" asteroid -- and is likely loaded with lots of carbon, the backbone of organic molecules.In August 2018, the solar-powered voyager will begin its final approach to the asteroid, and eventually slip into orbit.After a thorough survey of Bennu with OSIRIS-REx's spectrometers, cameras and laser altimeter, scientists will decide wh ere to snag a sample.The payload package will look for organics and collect detailed temperature measurements all across Bennu, which has regions colder than an icebox and others hot enough to boil water.The asteroid has a surface area of about 200 acres -- 0.78 square kilometers -- and some of OSIRIS-REx's instruments will capture data with centimeter-scale resolution, or better. The observations will add context to the sample OSIRIS-REx will return to Earth, and identify resources that might be valuable for astronauts in the future.During the next phase of the mission, in late 2019, mission scientists will narrow down targets for OSIRIS-REx to go down and snatch up a piece of Bennu. A final decision by top NASA management will pick the sampling site based on several factors, primarily to avoid damaging the spacecraft and to maximise the likelihood of capturing primitive, pre-biotic material, the mission's scientific payoff.Keiko Nakamura-Messenger, a space scientist working at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, leads the group charged with recommending a place on Bennu to sample."We want to identify an area which has a high concentration of organics and a variety of minerals, so that we can answer the scientific questions, or at least as many as possible," Nakamura-Messenger said in an interview with Spaceflight Now.There are limitations, however, on wh ere OSIRIS-REx can go. The mechanism aboard the probe to gather the asteroid specimens can only handle rocks up to three-quarters of an inch -- about 2 centimeters -- in diameter, so officials prefer a site with fine dust grains or a gravelly outer layer."We don't need a big rock," Nakamura-Messenger said. "We just need the signature of those organics."When NASA gives the green light to send OSIRIS-REx to the sampling site, a device called the TAGSAM will swing into action. Mounted on the end of of an articulating 11.1-foot (3.4-meter) robot arm, TAGSAM is about the size of a dinner plate, resembling an air filter affixed to an antique automobile.TAGSAM is short for the Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism.Starting from a point a few thousand feet -- less than a kilometer -- from Bennu, the spacecraft will fire thrusters to leave orbit, then adjust its speed to match the asteroid's rotation, allowing OSIRIS-REx to hover over the sampling target as it goes in for the prize, a sporty approach currently scheduled some time around July 4, 2020."We feel that gives us almost two years at the asteroid to map it with precision and help us in our decision wh ere to go, then rehearse and refine the sampling attempt," Lauretta said. Artist's concept of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with the TAGSAM sampling arm deployed. Credit: NASA The descent will be slow and methodical. Bennu's tenuous gravity will pull on the spacecraft at just 10 micro-g, equivalent to ten one-millionths the strength of Earth's gravity, making the approach more like rendezvous with the space station than landing on another planet."Its very much like a docking," Lauretta said. "We're under our own thrust authority the whole time. The gravity field is, more or less, insignificant at that point."OSIRIS-REx will reach Bennu's surface at a velocity of approximately two-tenths of a mph -- 10 centimeters per second -- a fraction of a normal walking pace. The spacecraft will not stay there for long, taking just five seconds for TAGSAM to do its job as the nozzle contacts the asteroid.A bottle of compressed nitrogen gas will discharge during the touch-and-go maneuver, scouring up bits of dust and rock from up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) beneath Bennu's surface, wh ere material should be shielded from wild temperature swings that could damage sensitive organics.The TAGSAM nozzle will trap samples blown away by the pulse of nitrogen and suck them into a collector with a rush of air, similar to the way a vacuum cleaner works. A camera aimed at the collector will record how it works at one frame per second. The imagery, coupled with precise measurements of changes in the spacecraft's mass, will tell engineers how the device performed.The criteria for success? 2.1 ounces, or 60 grams, of goods.That's enough for scientists back on Earth to try and unravel the constituents and history of Bennu, an object experts believe is representative of the mountain-sized boulders that populated the early solar system, when bodies buzzed through space like billiard balls, bombarding the proto-planets that later became Earth and its neighbors.Tests of the TAGSAM before launch showed the mechanism should collect many times more than the minimum requirement of 60 grams. If scientists are not satisfied with the first try, OSIRIS-REx carries two backup nitrogen canisters for additional sampling attempts."In their testing, they routinely picked up 300, 400 or 500 grams (10 to 17 ounces), so I'm expecting hundreds of grams of sample," Lauretta said."We feel like we've designed it to the worst-case scenario, but you don't know until you try," Lauretta said. "It's such a nail-biting moment. If we go down and everything works and we collect a sample, we don't want to do anything to risk that material. We just spent all this time, and all this money, to get that sample in, and that alone represents our science. That sample is extremely valuable, and the last thing I want do is go in for more and lose everything."Once the sample is captured, controllers will send commands for the TAGSAM arm to place the collection canister inside OSIRIS-REx's landing capsule. Explosive bolts will sever the TAGSAM head from the craft's robotic arm, and the capsule's lid will close over the device for the trip home. Technicians and engineers install a solar panel on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky The mission will move on to other tasks if it scoops up enough material the first time, including a measurement of the forces impacting Bennu's orbit to better predict its future path. There is a 1-in-2,700 chance the asteroid will impact Earth late in the 22nd century, and OSIRIS-REx will try to refine that probability.Engineers put stringent controls on the cleanliness of the OSIRIX-REx spacecraft, especially the parts that will touch the asteroid specimens, to ensure the material comes home unaltered by chemicals that could erase the organic signals sought by the science team.According to Kuhns, the cleanliness protocols were one of the mission's biggest challenges."A lot of it impacted how we build," Kuhns said.He says engineers who designed the spacecraft could not use many of the lubricants and glues they would on a typical mission. On one part of the TAGSAM system, for example, technicians could not use a preferred type of epoxy glue, so engineers sel ected the right set of screws, inserts and metals to add extra torque to certain fasteners, bypassing the need for an adhesive."The whole goal is to get the sample from the asteroid and bring it back safely, so we are carrying extremely tight contamination requirements that go well above and beyond what we typically have," Kuhns said in an interview. "We have to watch amino acids, and specific organic constituents, because that's what we're trying to find out about the asteroid."Engineers also substituted lock wires for glues, and workers had to replace nylon tethers used in pre-launch processing with other ways of securing tools and parts."That tether we've used for 30 years, we couldn't use any more," Kuhns told Spaceflight Now.Realizing the mission's super-clean standards, ground crews kept the TAGSAM unit that will fly to Bennu separate from the rest of OSIRIS-REx until the very end of the spacecraft's assembly campaign to avoid potentially spoiling the hardware with Earth microbes.Dworkin said scientists hope to get back a sample from Bennu just as the material exists on the asteroid."To understand what things were like on the early Earth and in the early solar system, we have to go to objects that still exist in a primordial pristine date that haven't been perturbed by geology," Dworkin said. "Meteorites deliver that information to the Earth from asteroids, but they invariably land on the ground and become instantly contaminated with terrestrial biology, and atmospheric entry to the Earth."Researchers can still glean some results from analyzing meteorites, and teams have found amino acids in space rocks that fell to Earth.Engineers did not sterilize the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft -- a costly step that NASA ordered before it launched the Viking landers to Mars in the 1970s -- but they took other measures to ensure the asteroid probe leaves Earth as clean as possible.Scientists have archived some of the materials used during assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, and workers installed collection plates throughout the probe's construction facility near Denver and inside the clean room at Kennedy Space Center. Artist's concept of the OSIRIS-REx sample return canister streaking through Earth's atmosphere. Credit: NASA/University of Arizona The plates accumulated contaminants fr om the atmosphere around OSIRIS-REx, and researchers will hang on to them until the mission returns with bits of Bennu in 2023. Scientists even sequenced some of the DNA found inside OSIRIS-REx's clean room, according to Dworkin.The idea is to archive the materials for future scientists to compare against the asteroid specimens, helping them rule out any false detection.Loaded with celestial goodies, OSIRIS-REx's 100-pound (60-kilogram) sample return canister will blaze into Earth's atmosphere at around 9 a.m. Mountain time on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. A recovery team will await the capsule at a landing site in Utah, then ship the carrier to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, wh ere scientists will first open the canister.Researchers will use optical and electron microscopes, super-computing labs, and synchrotron accelerators -- instruments the size of a large room or a building -- in their asteroid sample analysis.Scientific equipment qualified to fly in space have to operate in extreme temperatures, an airless vacuum, and intense radiation, all while functioning on very little power."Instrument designs are frozen years before the spacecraft is launched," Dworkin said. "Furthermore, those instruments have to be built on known heritage. They have to work, and they have to work perfectly. That means they're no longer state-of-the-art. They're state-of-the-art in terms of being tiny, and working under the harshest conditions with the lowest power margins."It's amazing what they can do, but when you bring something to a laboratory that has kilowatts of equipment, that takes us half a room or even an entire building, and require a staff just to keep them running, you can measure things at tremendously higher precision and higher accuracy," Dworkin said.For example, scientists will attempt to determine the chirality, or handedness, of amino acids and other compounds grabbed fr om Bennu. Molecules associated with life, such as DNA, have a distinctive orientation. In the case of DNA in organisms on Earth, the double helix always twists in a right-handed direction, and the atoms that make up amino acids in biology are almost always left-handed.The preference for a left or right orientation among the atoms making up biological molecules makes it easier for chemicals to latch together and build more complex structures. Artist's concept of excess left-hand aspartic acid created in asteroids and delivered to Earth via meteorite impacts. The line at the bottom is a chromatogram showing that left-hand aspartic acid (tall peak in the center, with diagram of left-hand aspartic acid molecule on top) was four times more abundant in the meteorite sample than right-hand aspartic acid (smaller peak to the left, with right-handed aspartic acid molecule on top). Credit: NASA/Hrybyk-Keith, Mary P. But the reasons why molecules involved in biology are almost always left- or right-handed, depending on the compound, remain a mystery."There are a few different amino acids which have been seen that have an excess of left-handed chirality in a variety of meteorites. Never an excess of the right-handed, always the left," Dworkin said. "That makes you wonder is there a solar system process that makes left preferential. We've looked at a variety of meteorites and always seen an excess of left, or no excess, in the amino acids."But the concern over contamination raises a red flag when scientists are studying meteorites. Thanks to the extensive cleanliness protocols institute before launch, that won't be the cause with the samples returned by OSIRIS-REx."There are amino acids wh ere you see a left excess (in handedness), but you don't know if you can believe it because the easiest explanation is to say it's contaminated," Dworkin said. "You have to go to extensive lengths to prove that it's not contamination. Sometimes you just can't do it. Being able to say, with certainty, that we can see that there's an excess in this compound, and that compound, but not this other compound, will help us understand the mechanisms that led into making these products."If life-supporting molecules found on Bennu show the same handedness of similar compounds on Earth, scientists might conclude the mechanism that triggered their excessive left or right orientation is a natural occurrence, and not just chance."Amino acids are really interesting in their chirality," Dworkin told Spaceflight Now. "There's also some reports of some sugar acids and related compounds that have a chiral excess. But this is the only natural non-biological process wh ere's there's evidence of chiral excess, so how that formed is a great mystery of science that we need to address.""We need these samples in our laboratories," Lauretta said. "We're having a conversation about chirality, which is the handedness of key organic molecules, and life has a particular preference for one mirror image over the other. You can't fly an instrument on a spacecraft to make that kind of measurement."
ЦитатаDante Lauretta @DSLauretta · 1 hour agoThe @OSIRISREx Solid Rocket Motor installed - with humans for scale
ЦитатаOSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Encapsulated, Atlas V Rocket Tanking Test PlannedPosted on August 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm by Anna Heiney. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn BensonNASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft comes one step closer to launch today as it is sealed inside the two-piece payload fairing that will protect it during the critical early minutes of liftoff. This process, called encapsulation, is taking place inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at Kennedy Space Center, where OSIRIS-REx has undergone prelaunch processing since its arrival in Florida in May.The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will boost OSIRIS-REx into space also is progressing toward launch day. The first-stage booster and its Centaur upper stage are in place at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where a tanking test is planned for Thursday.Early Monday morning, the payload fairing containing OSIRIS-REx will roll fr om the PHSF to the launch pad, wh ere it will be mated to the Atlas V.
ЦитатаAtlas 5 rocket rehearses countdown for upcoming launch to Asteroid Bennu August 25, 2016 Justin Ray The venting Atlas 5 during today's WDR. Credit: NASA-KSC/Kim Shiflett CAPE CANAVERAL -- Running through a practice countdown to check systems before launching a NASA sample-return probe to Asteroid Bennu in exactly two weeks, an Atlas 5 successfully completed its Wet Dress Rehearsal today.The United Launch Alliance rocket will propel the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on a trajectory to intercept the asteroid for a daring "touch-and-go" maneuver to grab a specimen that the satellite will bring back to Earth.The 7-year, round trip adventure launches Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 GMT).In preparation for departing Earth, the Atlas 5 was moved from its assembly building to the pad at Complex 41 yesterday and took on 25,000 gallons of RP-1, a highly refined kerosene fuel for the first stage.During today's seven-hour countdown, the Atlas-Centaur was filled with 65,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen under a realistic sequence.It was all part of NASA's desire to simulate launch day for the Atlas 5 to uncover any technical bugs in the launch pad equipment or flight hardware before the planned liftoff date."If buys down risk early. If we find something during Wet Dress Rehearsal, it beats finding it on the day of launch. If it's something that can be changed out -- like a valve -- or an irregularity with cryogenic tanking, it's worth it for us," said OSIRIS-REx Launch Director Tim Dunn.WDRs have become a rarity for Atlas 5 missions on the East Coast in recent years as United Launch Alliance phased them out to reduce the time it takes to prepare a rocket for flight."As part of ULA's initiatives over the last several years, they informed us four years ago that they wanted to eliminate WDRs from the sequence. We said we could get comfortable with that, except for our planetary missions," Dunn said.The OSIRIS-REx mission has a tight window, extending only to Oct. 12, in which to launch due to Earth's alignment with the asteroid. That factor alone drove NASA to request a WDR for this Atlas 5 rocket as insurance the spacecraft will fly.After draining the cryos from the Atlas-Centaur this afternoon, the rocket will be allowed to warm up before it is rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility tomorrow. The OSIRIS-REx payload, which was encapsulated in the nose cone yesterday at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, will mounted atop the vehicle on Monday.On Sept. 8, the Atlas 5 will have 25 launch opportunities, one every five minutes, during a two-hour period extending from 7:05 to 9:05 p.m. EDT (2305-0105 GMT). It will take nearly an hour for the rocket to accelerate OSIRIS-REx to the proper velocity and release the probe to begin a two-year outbound journey to reach Bennu.The launch will mark the 65th for the Atlas 5 program.The rocket's most recent flight July 28 eclipsed the Atlas 2 program's stellar record of 100 percent reliability in 63 straight successes between 1991 and 2004 for every Atlas 2, 2A and 2AS rocket ever launched. But now Atlas 5 has one-upped Atlas 2 with a history that stands at 64 successes since 2002 and counting.
ЦитатаDante Lauretta @DSLauretta · 5 hours agoPayload fairing and @OSIRISREx lifted onto the transport vehicle. Stacking on top of the rocket on Monday morning.
ЦитатаProbe hoisted aboard launcher to leave Earth next week on asteroid adventure August 29, 2016 Justin Ray File photo of Atlas payload lift and mate. Credit: United Launch Alliance CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft today moved a step closer to starting a voyage to explore an uncharted world in our solar system -- the mountain-sized Asteroid Bennu -- by joining the booster rocket that will propel it fr om Earth next week.Liftoff fr om Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket remains on schedule for Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 GMT). Launch will be possible at every five-minute interval for two hours till the window closes at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 GMT).The $800 million OSIRIS-REx project is the first U.S.-led asteroid sample return mission, a 7-year trek to grab a piece of Bennu and bring it back to Earth for study."We're interested in material from the earliest stages of solar system formation," said Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx principal investigator."We started out as a giant molecular cloud that collapsed down, conservation of angular momentum caused that material that didn't fall down into the proto-sun at the center to spin out into a disk. Inside that disk is wh ere the planets formed, but before that could happen, material condensed into very tiny grains, dust, ice and organic molecules. We think those organic molecules were critical for the origin of life on our planet, and tantalizing clues are provided as to the possibility of the origin of life on other planets."Like a time capsule, the primitive Bennu holds an unspoiled record of the conditions that existed during the solar system's formation 4.5 billion years ago. OSIRIS-REx will collect up to four mounds of that material and return it in a pristine canister, landing in Utah on Sept. 24, 2023."I've been interested in phosphorus compounds, and trace phosphates, which may be critical for DNA, RNA, ATP, critical molecules for our genetic information and for our energy in our cells. It's only by getting these samples into laboratories on Earth that we can address the fundamental science questions that we're interested in," Lauretta said.In preparation for the mission, the spacecraft was driven from Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 before dawn today, pulling up to the doorway of the Vertical Integration Facility wh ere the Atlas 5 rocket was assembled aboard a mobile launch platform.Already hidden from view inside the rocket's aluminium nose cone, the satellite was hoisted from its transporter by an overhead crane and maneuvered atop the Centaur upper stage for mating.The payload connection tops off the rocket at 189 feet tall. The mission poster. Credit: United Launch Alliance The Integrated Systems Test -- a tip-to-tail electrical checkout of the combined satellite and launch vehicle -- will be performed later this week, followed by holding the Flight Readiness Review.After a quiet three-day holiday weekend, the Launch Readiness Review will be conducted next Tuesday and the rocket rolls out to the pad next Wednesday, the day before liftoff.Here's a look at some stats about the AV-067 launch. This will be:[/li]The 647th launch for Atlas program since 1957 The 352nd Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral The 236th mission of a Centaur upper stage The 213th use of Centaur by an Atlas rocket The 472nd production RL10 engine to be launched The 71st flight of an RD-180 main engine The 65th launch of an Atlas 5 since 2002 The 13th NASA use of Atlas 5 The 54th launch of an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral The 5th Atlas 5 launch of 2016 The 98th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle flight The 111th United Launch Alliance flight overall The 57th Atlas 5 under United Launch Alliance The 26th NASA launch by United Launch Alliance The 80th United Launch Alliance flight from Cape Canaveral The 44th 400-series flight of the Atlas 5 The 4th Atlas 5 to fly in the 411 configuration The 81st launch from Complex 41 The 54th Atlas 5 to use Complex 41