| | Published 31 December 2009 OSIRIS-REx Project One of Three Finalists for NASAs Next Space Venture
The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer mission, led by
the UA, is one of three candidates for the agencys next space venture to another celestial body in
the solar system.
NASA has selected the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer
mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, as one of three candidates for the agencys next space venture to
another celestial body in the solar system under the New Frontiers program.
The OSIRIS-REx team will receive approximately $3.3 million in 2010 to conduct a 12-month mission
concept study that focuses on implementation feasibility, cost, management and technical plans.
This study will also include plans for educational outreach and small business opportunities.
OSIRIS-REx will usher in a new era of planetary exploration. For the first time in
space-exploration history, a mission will return a pristine sample of a carbonaceous asteroid.
The mission executes precise spacecraft navigation to the surface of the asteroid, thoroughly
characterizes the asteroid and the sample site, acquires a significant quantity of pristine regolith and
returns these samples safely to Earth for detailed analyses.
OSIRIS-RExs target asteroid is a time capsule from before the birth of our the solar system that
records presolar history, the initial stages of planet formation and the sources of prebiotic organic
compounds available for the origin of life.
This organic-rich asteroid is a type not available in our meteorite collections. OSIRIS-REx also
explores the hazards and resources in near-Earth space that are important for securing Earths
future. Detailed knowledge of the target asteroid can be extrapolated to thousands of carbonaceous
asteroids in the main belt, revealing the distribution of volatile and organic compounds across the
Michael Drake, director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, will serve
as principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx. OSIRIS-REx brings together the UAs leadership in
planetary science, Lockheed Martins extensive experience in sample-return mission development and
operations and the Goddard Space Flight Centers (GSFC) expertise in project management, systems
engineering, and safety and mission assurance. The OSIRIS-REx payload includes instruments
provided by the UA, GSFC, Arizona State University and the Canadian Space Agency.
OSIRIS-REx is important to the University of Arizona as a large space project reflecting the
UAs leadership in space, said Drake. Over the next 12 months we will be working
feverishly on concept study, leading to a report and an oral defense.
The OSIRIS-REx Mission Operations team combines the flight operations experience and knowledge of
Lockheed Martin, KinetX and GSFC with the UAs instrument operations, Odyssey and Phoenix
experience to provide cost efficient operations while achieving mission success. The OSIRIS-REx
Navigation Team, lead by KinetX Space Navigation and Flight Dynamics, has experience with similar
proximity operations for NEAR and Hayabusa and will operate in the successful, integrated NEAR mission
OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with its target asteroid after roughly three years of cruising through
space. After several months of performing a comprehensive global mapping of the texture,
mineralogy and chemistry of its target asteroid, resolving geological features, revealing its geologic
and dynamic history, providing context for the returned samples, documenting the asteroids
regolith at the sampling site in situ at scales down to the sub-millimeter, OSIRIS-REx will use its
simple sampling mechanism to acquire a pristine sample and leave for home.
After a two-and-a-half year cruise back to Earth, OSIRIS-RExs Stardust-heritage sample return
capsule will safely land at the Utah Test and Training Range. From there, the sample return
capsule will be taken to the Johnson Space Center, where the samples are removed and delivered to the
dedicated OSIRIS-REx curation facility. Here they will be available to the OSIRIS-REx science team
and the global scientific community.
Precise analyses will be performed in terrestrial laboratories that cannot be duplicated by
spacecraft-based instruments. Ongoing sample analysis by generations of scientists using
cutting-edge tools and methods guarantees an enduring scientific treasure that only sample return can
If selected, OSIRIS-Rex will provide a significant boost to the Arizona economy.
Approximately $100 million will be spent in Tucson and Arizona, a significant economic impact in
these tough financial times, Drake said.
Combining true exploration and laboratory-based science, OSIRIS-REx leaves a multi-generational legacy
for the science community and people of the world. Just as Apollo lunar samples are still being
analyzed in new and previously unpredictable ways 40 years after their collection, OSIRIS-REx samples
will be available for the future of humankind.
Students would have a major role in the OSIRIS-REx mission, one of the most exciting aspects of the
mission to Drake and what he calls the lasting legacy of OSIRIS-REx.
These large research projects create enormous opportunities for undergraduate and graduate
students. OSIRIS-REx will engage a large number of students in meaningful science and engineering
projects, providing them with skills that most universities can only dream of and launching our talented
undergraduates into the workforce with unmatchable resumes, Drake said.
These are projects that inspire and excite young scientists, engineers and the public, said
Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in
NASA will select one proposal for full development after detailed mission concept studies are completed
and reviewed. The studies begin during 2010, and the selected mission must be ready for launch no
later than Dec. 30, 2018. Mission cost, excluding the launch vehicle, is limited to $650 million.
The OSIRIS-REx Science team includes leaders in their fields from the University of Arizona, Goddard
Space Flight Center, Johns Hopkins/Applied Physics Laboratory, MIT, Southwest Research Institute, Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Arizona State University, Space Science Institute, Planetary Science Institute,
Ithaca College, Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, Johnson Space Center,
SETI Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Cornell University, Ames Research Center, University Of
Colorado, Boulder, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Observatoire de Paris, University of Winnipeg,
CNRS - Observatoire de la Cote dAzur, University of Toronto, University of Calgary, University of
British Columbia, and the European Space Agency.
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