After two years of coasting through deep space, doing course corrections, and flying by Earth, OSIRIS-REx has arrived at the asteroid Bennu. Today at about 12:30pm EST, OSIRIS-REx officially reached the asteroid. The spacecraft will be retrieving a sample from the surface of the asteroid before leaving and returning to Earth. Alongside collecting a sample, it will be analyzing and mapping the surface of the asteroid and obtaining data that we can use to learn about the creation of our planet and others.
OSIRIS-REx was launched on an Atlas V 411 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 8th, 2016. The main objective of this mission is to take a sample from the surface using an instrument named TAGSAM, or "Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism". This mechanism will use Nitrogen gas to suck up dust and materials from the surface of the asteroid after making firm contact with it. After collecting this sample, TAGSAM will place the contents of the sample in the SRC, or "Sample Return Capsule", which will be the only part of the spacecraft that will return to Earth.
There are 3 cameras on this spacecraft, PolyCam, MapCam, and Samcam. PolyCam is an 8 inch telescope that will photograph the asteroid from far distances as well as super close up High-Resolution photos of the surface. MapCam will search the asteroid for escaping gasses from the surface as well as mapping there asteroid in 4 different colors and will show the shape of the entire asteroid. It will also provide high resolution photographs of the sampling site. Lastly, SamCam will be photographing and continuously documenting the sample maneuver.