NASA has confirmed that OSIRIS-REx made the last flight of the asteroid Bennu. The spring ended around 6 a.m. EDT on April 7, leaving OSIRIS-REx slowly away from the asteroid. Mission controllers have a few more days to wait before they can discover how the spacecraft changed the surface of the asteroid after the sampling mission.
The OSIRIS-REx team added additional asteroid passage to document surface changes caused by the Touch and Go sampling maneuver on October 20, 2020. Mission controllers said research into the distribution of excavated material around the sampling site allows them to learn more about the nature of surface and underground materials. together with the mechanical properties of the asteroid.
During its final flight, OSIRIS-REx photographed the asteroid for nearly 6 hours, covering more than full rotation around Bennu. It flew at a distance of 2.1 miles from the surface, which is closest to the spacecraft since the sampling event. It will be a few days before the mission controllers have an idea of the state of the landing site, as it will take at least April 13 for the spacecraft to lower all data and new images down.
OSIRIS-REx shares deep space network antennas used to transmit data with other NASA missions, including Mars Perseverance Rover. OSIRIS-REx is usually allowed between four and six hours of outgoing connection time per day. So far, mission controllers have received about 4,000 megabytes of data collected during the overflight.
OSIRIS-REx is currently located about 185 million miles from Earth, resulting in a slow data rate of 412 kilobits per second. A limited downlink connection is available daily, and the slow connection speed means it will take several days to download all the data. OSIRIS-REx will remain near the asteroid until May 10, when its thrusters will ignite and the two-year journey home will begin.