NASA OSIRIS-APEX set for unprecedented photo voltaic method on mission to asteroid Apophis

NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX spacecraft, previously often called OSIRIS-REx, is actively making ready for a groundbreaking photo voltaic method, bringing it nearer to the Solar than ever earlier than because it targets the asteroid Apophis. The spacecraft’s closest method, known as perihelion, is ready for January 2, 2024, positioning OSIRIS-APEX roughly 46.5 million miles away from the Solar. This distance is roughly half the span between Earth and the Solar and nicely throughout the orbit of Venus. NASA has highlighted that this shut encounter will topic the spacecraft’s elements to greater temperatures than initially designed.


Following the profitable supply of the Bennu pattern to Earth on September 24, 2023, OSIRIS-REx transitioned into a brand new mission. The staff proposed a further mission to Apophis, giving rise to OSIRIS-APEX, an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Useful resource Identification, and Safety – Apophis Explorer. Additionally learn: Huge setback for NASA CAPSTONE launch to Moon!

Sandy Freund, the OSIRIS-APEX program supervisor at Lockheed Martin House in Littleton, Colorado, emphasised the staff’s creativity throughout the spacecraft’s flight, pushing boundaries to fulfill mission necessities. To stop overheating throughout the photo voltaic method, the spacecraft will preserve a hard and fast orientation relative to the Solar. Moreover, one among its photo voltaic arrays shall be repositioned to protect essentially the most delicate elements, a configuration deemed secure in accordance with thermal fashions.

Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina, principal investigator for OSIRIS-APEX on the College of Arizona, Tucson, careworn the intensive modelling undertaken to make sure the spacecraft’s security. Nevertheless, DellaGiustina acknowledged the inherent dangers when surpassing the design standards for house flight {hardware}.

OSIRIS-APEX’s Mission After the Photo voltaic Encounter

Asteroid Apophis is anticipated to return inside 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) of Earth in 2029. OSIRIS-APEX is slated to enter Apophis’ orbit shortly after this shut method to evaluate the influence on the asteroid’s orbit, spin price, and floor. Notably, observers within the Jap Hemisphere can have the chance to witness Apophis with the bare eye.

The upcoming perihelion marks the preliminary stage of OSIRIS-APEX’s formidable mission, involving six shut Solar passes and three Earth gravity assists. These manoeuvres are strategically deliberate to culminate in OSIRIS-APEX reaching Apophis in April 2029.

Found in 2004, Apophis was initially categorised as one of the crucial hazardous asteroids with the potential to influence Earth. Nevertheless, it has since been faraway from the influence danger checklist.

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