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A look at what the asteroid-hunting spacecraft has been up to so far

Since the launch of NASA’s first asteroid sampling mission, OSIRIS-REx, on September 8, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the explorer has hit all of its projected milestones without a hitch.

OSIRIS-REx Outbound Cruise Trajectory Video:

OSIRIS-REx is currently 8 months and 17 days (as of this publishing) into a 7-year journey to the asteroid Bennu and back that could potentially reveal clues about the origin of life as we know it. Below are some of the notable milestones it has reached thus far.


September 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm EDT – OSIRIS-REx launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launches aboard a ULA Atlas V 411 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: United Launch Alliance

October 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm EDT – OSIRIS-REx fires its Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thrusters to adjust its trajectory for the first time.

Artist’s conception of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in cruise configuration. Credit: University of Arizona/Heather Roper

On December 28, 2016, OSIRIS-REx successfully executes its first Deep Space Maneuver putting it on course for an Earth flyby in September 2017.

Artist’s conception of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during a burn of its main engine. Credit: University of Arizona

On February 9, 2017 OSIRIS-REx begins its search for Earth Trojan Asteroids using the spacecraft’s MapCam camera which will take 135 images per observation day.

An artist’s rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s survey pattern during its Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search (not to scale). The search occurs Feb. 9-20, 2017, as the spacecraft transits the Earth’s L4 Lagrangian region. Credit: University of Arizona

On February 14, 2017 OSIRIS-REx takes an image of Jupiter and three of its moons.

On Feb. 12, 2017, OSIRIS-REx’s PolyCam imager captured this image of Jupiter (center) and three of its moons, Callisto (left), Io, and Ganymede. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 76 million miles (122 million kilometers) from Earth and 418 million miles (673 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

On March 24, 2017 OSIRIS-REx concluded its two-week search for Earth-Trojan asteroids to no avail. However, the spacecraft’s camera and instruments operated flawlessly and demonstrated that it could capture objects two magnitudes dimmer than originally expected.

The path of the Main Belt asteroid 12 Victoria, as imaged by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Feb. 11 during the mission’s Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search. This gif is made of a series of five images taken by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera that were then cropped and centered on Victoria. The images were taken about 51 minutes apart and each were exposed for ten seconds. Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

As OSIRIS-REx continues on its potentially ground breaking discovery mission, it will keep sending information and images back to Earth for scientists to analyze. For more information on its progress and other news, check out the dedicated OSIRIS-REx website.