OSIRIS-REx bypasses laser altimeter issue


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The science team for OSIRIS-REx has figured out a bypass for the failure of one of the spacecraft’s laser altimeters, originally used during close flyovers of the surface of the rubble-pile asteroid Bennu.

The mission has made the decision to use OLA’s High Energy Laser Transmitter (HELT) to provide the ranging data to focus PolyCam during the Mar. 3 flyover of site Nightingale. OLA consists of two laser subsystems, the HELT and the Low-Energy Laser Transmitter (LELT). OLA’s LELT was originally scheduled to provide these data, however, as a result of the anomaly that occurred during the Recon B site Osprey flyover, the team has determined that the LELT system is no longer operable. Despite the LELT’s condition, the HELT system has continued to operate as expected, and will be used to focus PolyCam for the remaining reconnaissance passes.

According to Erin Morton, head of communications for OSIRIS-REx in the Principal Investigator’s Office, the failure of LELT will not impact the touch-and-go sample grab, presently scheduled for sometime in August.

We don’t need OLA [either the low or high energy transmitters] for the sample collection event. OLA’s main purpose was to collect the altimetry data needed to make topographical maps for the sample site decision. It successfully accomplished that last year – which means that the instrument has completed all of its primary mission requirements. OLA isn’t used for navigation.

Instead, they are using an autonomous system that compares previous high resolution images with images taken during descent. In addition, they have a lidar system available as well.

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One comment

  • Joe

    “In addition, they have a lidar system available as well”. Assuming that the quoted comment refers to the GN&C lidars, how well are the two G&C lidars performing?. I was not able to find any recent data regarding their performance.

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