The University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx goal will take advantage of a two-year outbound tour to a asteroid Bennu in sequence to control a hunt for fugitive solar complement objects. Between Feb. 9 and 20, a NASA booster will activate a onboard camera apartment and embark a hunt for Earth-Trojan asteroids.
Trojan asteroids are transport companions to planets as they circuit a sun, remaining nearby a fast indicate 60 degrees in front of or behind a planet. Because they constantly lead or follow in a same orbit, they never will hit with their messenger planet. The tenure “Trojan asteroid” was determined when it was motionless to name Jupiter’s messenger asteroids after warriors of a Trojan fight in Greek mythology.
Six planets in a solar complement are famous to bay Trojan asteroids — Jupiter, Neptune, Mars, Venus, Uranus and Earth. Although some-more than 6,000 Trojan asteroids are famous to be orbiting along with Jupiter, scientists have detected usually one Earth Trojan to date: 2010 TK7, found by NASA’s NEOWISE plan in 2010.
Scientists envision that there should be some-more Trojans orbiting Earth, though these asteroids are formidable to detect since they seem tighten to a object from Earth’s indicate of view. In mid-February 2017, however, a OSIRIS-REx booster will be ideally positioned to commence a consult of a fast indicate in front of Earth.
Over 12 days, a OSIRIS-REx Earth-Trojan asteroid hunt will occupy a spacecraft’s MapCam imager to methodically indicate a space where Earth Trojans are approaching to exist. MapCam is partial of a OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite, or OCAMS, that was designed and built by researchers during a UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
Many of a campaign’s observations will closely resemble MapCam’s designed activities during a arriving hunt for tiny rocks orbiting asteroid Bennu. While a odds of anticipating such tiny rocks around Bennu is low, a Trojan asteroid hunt serves as an early operation for this vicious reserve check, as good as for a mission’s primary scholarship operations.
“The Earth-Trojan asteroid hunt provides a estimable advantage to a OSIRIS-REx mission,” pronounced Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal questioner and highbrow of heavenly scholarship during a Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “Not usually do we have a event to learn new members of an asteroid class, though some-more importantly, we are practicing vicious goal operations in allege of a attainment during Bennu, that eventually reduces goal risk.”
The OSIRIS-REx booster is now on a seven-year tour to event with, investigate and lapse a representation of Bennu to Earth. This representation of a obsolete asteroid will assistance scientists know a arrangement of a solar complement some-more than 4.5 billion years ago.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides altogether goal management, systems engineering, and a reserve and goal declaration for OSIRIS-REx. Lauretta is a principal investigator, and a UA also leads a scholarship group and a mission’s scholarship regard formulation and information processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built a booster and is providing satellite moody operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are obliged for navigating a OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is a third goal in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages a agency’s New Frontiers Program for a Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Source: University of Arizona