Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

OSIRIS-REx engineers successfully place sample collector in return capsule

Stowing OSIRIS-REx's sample from Bennu
Click for full image.

OSIRIS-REx engineers have successfully placed the sample collector head holding the material captured from the asteroid Bennu in the return capsule that will bring it back to Earth.

Yesterday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission successfully placed the spacecraft’s sample collector head into its Sample Return Capsule (SRC). The first image shows the collector head hovering over the SRC after the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) arm moved it into the proper position for capture. The second image shows the collector head secured onto the capture ring in the SRC. Both images were captured by the StowCam camera.

Today, after the head was seated into the SRC’s capture ring, the spacecraft performed a “backout check,” which commanded the TAGSAM arm to back out of the capsule. This maneuver is designed to tug on the collector head and ensure that the latches – which keep the collector head in place – are well secured. Following the test, the mission team received telemetry confirming that the head is properly secured in the SRC.

The next step will be to seal the capsule for return to Earth. However, based on the two images above, the sample is now relatively secure, as the opening where material could escape is now held face down in the capsule.

The spacecraft will head back to Earth in March ’21, with the sample capsule landing on Earth on September 24, 2023. I do not know whether it will be possible in the next six months to get new images of the Nightingale touch-and-go site, but have emailed Erin Morton, head of the communications for the science team, and asked. I will update this post when I hear back from her.

Readers! My Quick November Fund-Raiser for Behind the Black is now over
 

I cannot thank the numerous people who so generously donated or subscribed to Behind the Black during this fund drive. The response was remarkable, and reflected the steady growth and popularity of the work I have been doing here for the past ten-plus years.


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4 comments

  • Alex Andrite

    Very Neat, sort of an easter egg fortune cookie.
    But not until Sept. 2023 ?

    More tea please.

  • Chris

    This picture and the prior picture the Chinese Space Agency produces of their fully deployed satellite show the extreme value of cameras.

  • Pervy Grin

    This was the subject of last week’s Nova on PBS–“Touching the Asteroid”. Pretty cool

  • Mark Holmes

    I would have renamed this mission “Project “Scoop” and have it land in NM instead of UT a la “Andromeda Strain”. :-) Let’s hope it lands intact and is opened in a Level V Bio lab.

    All kidding aside, what a tremendous achievement.

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