The OSIRIS-REx mission continues to make great progress. As I have mentioned before, we are in the Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of the program. We have had many great accomplishments leading up to this point. At the heart of our mission is the Sample Acquisition and Return Assembly (SARA). This assembly contains the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), and the TAGSAM launch container. The SARA panel is now installed on the spacecraft and has completed its functional tests.
The SARA panel on its way to integration with the spacecraft.
TAGSAM works by pressing its head down into the regolith on the asteroid, then opening up one of three bottles of high-pressure nitrogen gas. The gas moves down through tubing on the arm and exits from an annular orifice at the base of the head. The gas is then injected into the regolith, which is fluidized and sucked up into the collection chamber inside the head.
Lifting SARA is a well-coordinated activity.
To make sure that this process will work, we have to perform many different verification tests. Over the past two months, we have verified the TAGSAM-to-capture-ring alignment, ensuring that we can ...