A team of Lockheed Martin engineers has commanded NASA‘s OSIRIS-REx space probe to move a robotic sampling arm designed to collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu.
Lockheed said Friday its engineering team tested movements of the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism to determine the TAGSAM device’s readiness for upcoming asteroid surface material collection.
OSIRIX-REx, which lifted off in September 2016 aboard an Atlas V 411 rocket, represents the third mission under NASA’s New Frontiers program.
The spacecraft is expected to reach the near-Earth object by Dec. 3 and complete the asteroid exploration over a two-year period, with the sampling operation slated to commence on July 4, 2020.
The probe’s sample return capsule will store the TAGSAM head once the robot gathers enough sample to send back to Earth by Sept. 24, 2023.