Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cameras chosen for NASA asteroid mission

Advanced Scientific Concepts, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, Calif., announced on Tuesday their 3D Flash LIDAR range cameras have been selected to fly aboard a NASA planetary science mission designed to study and return samples from a deep space asteroid.

Set for launch in 2016, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission will return samples from an asteroid known as 1999 RQ36. The 3D Flash LIDAR cameras will be designed for determining the spacecraft range to the asteroid surface, as well as evaluating the approach to potential sample sites.

"The OSIRIS-REx sample return mission is of major importance in revealing the origin of volatiles and organics that led to life on Earth," said Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator overseeing the mission. "Being able to accurately range to the asteroid surface during the 'touch and go' maneuver allows us to monitor the target profile and ensure that we are on a safe approach trajectory, with the possibility of multiple approaches if necessary.”

The OSIRIS-Rex's principal investigator is located at the University of Arizona. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft.

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