Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

CU-Boulder to participate in NASA mission to land on an asteroid
by Staff Writers
Boulder CO (SPX) May 30, 2011

Slated to launch in 2016, the spacecraft will fly to within three miles of the asteroid - dubbed "1999 RQ36 - in 2020 and begin a six-month, comprehensive mapping project, said Scheeres.

A University of Colorado Boulder team will be part of a mission selected yesterday by NASA to launch a spacecraft to an asteroid and pluck samples from its surface to better understand the formation of the solar system and perhaps even the first inklings of life.

The mission, called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, is being led by the University of Arizona and is slated to approach, map and collect samples from a primitive asteroid for return to Earth.

Professor Daniel Scheeres of CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department is the radio science team leader on the OSIRIS-REx mission, which is expected to bring more than $3 million in research funding to CU-Boulder over the mission lifetime.

The NASA selection of the asteroid mission as part of the New Frontiers Program was a disappointment for CU-Boulder scientists at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics led by Professor Larry Esposito, science team leader on a proposed, unmanned mission to land on Venus as part of the program.

In 2009 the LASP-led SAGE mission to Venus was named one of three finalists along with OSIRIS-REx and a proposed effort led by Washington University in St. Louis to sample and return material from the far side of the moon.

As the leader of the OSIRIS-REx radio science team, Scheeres and his colleagues will characterize the asteroid's mass and gravity field as a way to better understand its internal structure.

"We essentially will be weighing the asteroid to see how the mass is distributed across it," he said. "We need to know the mass and gravity field of the asteroid before the spacecraft comes in contact with it."

Scheeres said that at least one CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher and additional graduate students will be involved in the mission operations, software development and research.

Slated to launch in 2016, the spacecraft will fly to within three miles of the asteroid - dubbed "1999 RQ36 - in 2020 and begin a six-month, comprehensive mapping project, said Scheeres.

The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft will subsequently conduct a "touch-and-go" on the asteroid, spending about 10 seconds on its surface as a robotic arm collects several ounces of asteroid material for return to Earth, he said.

The mission, excluding the launch vehicle, is expected to cost about $800 million, according to NASA officials.

The mission is in line with objectives outlined by President Barack Obama to reach beyond low-Earth orbit to explore deep space, according to NASA officials, evolving from robotic missions like OSIRIS-REx to future manned missions to asteroids and beyond.

A 2010, study by Scheeres and his colleagues showed that asteroids were not just giant rocks lumbering about in orbit, they are instead constantly changing little "worlds" than can give birth to smaller asteroids that split off to start their own lives as they circle the sun.


Related Links
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

NASA Selects OSIRIS-REx as Next New Frontiers Mission
Washington DC (SPX) May 27, 2011
NASA has selected the University of Arizona to lead a sample-return mission to an asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx team is led by Dr. Michael Drake, Director of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will manage the mission for NASA. Lockheed Martin will build the spacecraft. "This is a critical step in meeting the objectives ... read more

Parts of moon interior as wet as Earth's upper mantle

NASA-Funded Scientists Make Watershed Lunar Discovery

Moon may have more water than believed: study

President Kennedy's Speech and America's Next Moonshot Moment

Opportunity Spies Outcrop Ahead

A mole to explore the interior of Mars

Mars Formed Rapidly into Runt of Planetary Litter

NASA's Spirit Rover Completes Mission on Mars

Paolos wild ride down from ISS onboard Soyuz TMA-20

ATV-4 to carry name Albert Einstein

New deep space vehicle to be based on Orion: NASA

NASA Announces Key Decision For Next Deep Space Transportation System

Venezuela, China to launch satellite next year

Top Chinese scientists honored with naming of minor planets

China sees smooth preparation for launch of unmanned module

China to attempt first space rendezvous

Final Endeavour spacewalk marks 1,000 hours of station EVAs

Fourth and Final Shuttle Astronaut Spacewalk Set

Astronauts test new exercises on space walk

Spacewalkers Outfit Station

Cosmica Spacelines And XCOR Aerospace Tout Suborbital Payload Flight Opportunties

Should India Go Suborbital

ASTRA 1N delivered to French Guiana

Russia sends two Soyuz carrier rockets to French Guiana

Second Rocky World Makes Kepler-10 a Multi-Planet System

Kepler's Astounding Haul of Multiple-Planet Systems Just Keeps Growing

Bennett team discovers new class of extrasolar planets

Climate scientists reveal new candidate for first habitable exoplanet

Japan detects high radiation levels off coast: report

UA is Top University Contributing to Global Planetary Exploration Research

Tablets, 3D in focus at future-shaping Taiwan IT show

China to establish rare earths exchange

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement