Category TAGSAM

Osirians of the Great White North – The Canadian Contribution to OSIRIS-REx

Co-authored with Lori Stiles When we first started planning an asteroid sample-return mission for the NASA New Frontiers Program, we looked to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to provide the OLA instrument for topographic mapping and ranging to the asteroid. We also sought Co-Investigators from Canada to help us study the geology of our target […]

The OSIRIS-REx Design Reference Mission – Our Battle Plan

This week the OSIRIS-REx team gathered at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver to perform a “Design Reference Mission (DRM)” walkthrough. The DRM is basically the battle plan for OSIRIS-REx for accomplishing our goal of returning pristine samples from asteroid Bennu. In addition, the DRM lays out our basic strategy for dealing with any problems […]

Spacecraft Structure – The Bones of OSIRIS-REx

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the spacecraft composite fabrication lab at Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company facility near Denver. The construction of OSIRIS-REx has begun! The first flight components include the spacecraft structural parts – basically the skeleton of our spacecraft upon which all other components will be mounted. Spacecraft structures have […]

Highlights from OSIRIS-REx Science Team Meeting #6

The OSIRIS-REx Science Team gathered at the University of Arizona in Tucson from April 22 -24, 2014 for their sixth meeting. The meeting was a dynamic event and covered many aspects of both the science and implementation of the mission. In this post I will discuss a few of the highlights. In Search of the […]

Spitzer Space Telescope Observations of Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx mission has the unique challenge of visiting asteroid Bennu, characterizing it at global and local scales, then selecting the best site on the asteroid surface to acquire a sample for return to Earth. In order to minimize the risk of exploring an unknown world, OSIRIS-REx has recruited some of the best asteroid astronomers […]

Ten Years of Spacecraft Design

February 2014 marked my ten-year anniversary working on the OSIRIS-REx project. At this point, we have completed most of our subsystem design reviews and are diligently preparing for the Mission Critical Design Review the first week of April. I decided to celebrate this important milestone with a look back at how the overall design of […]


AKA – Contamination Science Investigation for OSIRIS-REx OSIRIS-REx is driven by the top-level science objective to return >60 g of pristine, carbonaceous regolith from asteroid Bennu.  In support of this objective, OSIRIS-REx has a team of sample scientists, based at Johnson Space Center (JSC), who are capable of analyzing material down to the atomic level. […]

Sampling an Asteroid – A Game of Laser TAG

Every spacecraft mission has at least one moment of terror. For OSIRIS-REx, mission success comes down to the five seconds when our Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) “kisses” the surface of asteroid Bennu to acquire a sample. Our TAG-based sampling approach is the result of over ten years of research and development efforts. To Land […]

Riding the Vomit Comet

This week, I was at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado for the Critical Design Review of our Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) and the Sample Return Capsule (SRC). The review went very well and Lockheed Martin has made great progress in the design of these units, as well as the detailed planning for […]