ELSI Colloquium

March 2, 2018

ELSI-2 104 ELSI Lounge

Title: OSIRIS-REx Current Status,Contamination Strategy, and Implementation

Hosted by Tomo Usui


OSIRIS-REx: The OSIRIS-REx mission (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security Regolith Explorer) is the third NASA New Frontiers mission. It launched September 8, 2016. The primary objective of the mission is to return at least 60 g of "pristine" material from the B-type near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu, which is spectrally similar to organic-rich CI or CM meteorites [1, 2]. The study of these samples

will advance our understanding of materials available for the origin of life on Earth or elsewhere. The spacecraft will rendezvous with Bennu in 2018 and spend at least a year characterizing the asteroid before executing a maneuver to recover a sample of regolith in the touch-and- go sample acquisition mechanism (TAGSAM). The TAGSAM head and sample are stowed in the sample return capsule (SRC) and returned to Earth in 2023.

Contamination Control: To collect and maintain a pristine sample, OSIRIS-REx implemented a contamination control requirement for critical surfaces of 100 A/2 for particles and films, a 180 ng/cm 2 requirement for amino acids, and a campaign called contamination knowledge to collect and analyze the contamination present and their sources during assembly, test, and launch operations (ATLO) [3]. To our knowledge OSIRIS-REx is the first mission which has successfully implemented an amino acid requirement. The methods and lessons learned in preparing OSIRIS-REx for launch can serve as a pathfinder for future astrobiology missions sensitive to organics and planetary protection.


[1] Lauretta D. S. et al. (2017) Space Sci. Rev. (2017) 212, 925-984.

[2] Clark et al. (2011) Icarus 216, 462-475.

[3] Dworkin et al. Space Sci. Rev. (2018) 214, 19.