On the eve of 2019, amid the excitement stirred by the historic New Horizons mission, a small yet significant celebration took place for a space event filled with many landmark firsts.
Following a two-year journey, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft successfully entered the orbit of a tiny asteroid named Bennu, some 1.2 billion miles from Earth. Bennu is the smallest object ever orbited and the first near-Earth asteroid ever reached by a spacecraft.
Never before has a spacecraft orbited so closely and slowly around an object in space. OSIRIS-REx will also be the first mission to collect a two-ounce sample of dirt and bring it safely back to Earth – to uncover the mysteries of how life began.
Credit: NASA/University of Arizona
Ingenuity marks OSIRIS-REx’s mission success and Peraton helped make it possible via mission management and precision tracking of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) in California. The 24/7 critical communications Peraton delivers ensures the constant, uninterrupted flow of data from OSIRIS-REx enabling discovery and helping scientists make accurate predictions of future collisions by asteroids like Bennu – a potentially hazardous object with a 1-in-2700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2199.
From the beginning stages of maneuver planning to the rapid response to ever-changing configurations and trajectory field verification, the Peraton team was there and will continue to support the OSIRIS-REx mission as it advances our understanding of space and what lies ahead.