The OSIRIS-REx team faced some issues back in October. They found out that a telecommunications facility close to Madrid encountered an unexpected network outage. The Spanish facility is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) and is home to massive radio antennas. One of these was prepared to ping OSIRIS-REx for a significant data download.
Moreover, the data download would have conducted a 24-hour marathon system, titled “late update,” to forecast the spacecraft’s trajectory in time for a flyover of Osprey. Amongst the litany of advanced tasks, the navigation team required to do that day was to download photos of Bennu. They also used those images to examine landmarks on the asteroid to renew the spacecraft’s position and speed. The DSN outage, however, warned to throw the team’s plans off track.
OSIRIS-REx Engineers Attempt to Rescue the Asteroid Mission
However, OSIRIS-REx engineers developed fast another plan. Brennen Miller, a systems engineer from Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, stated: “Typically, a dropped DSN pass would not cause such a scramble, but the critical nature of the images made us realize we needed to take action immediately.” The 24-hour trajectory update system is bold compared to others. But the team determined to compress the whole process into less than four hours to maintain their plan timeline intact.a
Richard Burns, Goddard-based OSIRIS-REx project manager, added: “People were pretty nervous about compressing the 24-hour timeline. […], but the team was well-practiced ar performing late updates, so we knew we had the right people and the right tools to make it happen.” Having pulled off many accurate measurements under those pressures earlier in the mission, the OSIRIS-REx engineers were able to finish the compressed process. They sent on October 12 the updated positions to the spacecraft and waited for the final photos of Osprey.