This series of images, captured on Apr. 14 during the first rehearsal of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, shows the SamCam instrument’s field of view as the spacecraft approaches and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface. The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through the first two maneuvers of the sampling event to a point approximately 213 feet (65 meters) above the surface, before backing the spacecraft away. These images were recorded over a ten-minute span between the execution of the rehearsal’s “Checkpoint” burn, approximately 394 feet (120 meters) above the surface, and the completion of the back-away burn, which occurred approximately 213 feet (65 meters) above the surface.
The spacecraft’s sampling arm – called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) – is visible in the central part of the frame, and the relatively clear, dark patch of Bennu’s sample site Nightingale is visible in the later images, at the top. The large, dark boulder that the spacecraft approaches during the sequence is 43 feet (13 meters) on its longest axis. The sequence was created using over 30 images taken by the spacecraft’s SamCam camera. For context, the images are oriented with Bennu’s west at the top. During the sample collection event, which is scheduled for August, the SamCam imager will continuously document the entire event and touchdown maneuver.
Image & info via NASA