KGUN 9 On Your SideNews


UA space probe catches portrait of Earth

Camera test for Osiris Rex gets Earth photos
Posted at 8:05 PM, Sep 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 23:05:49-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A space probe from UA has a travel picture to show us.

Osiris Rex shot a portrait of Earth as it passed our planet on its way to visit an asteroid and bring a sample back home.

The picture of Earth seems familiar but it's a new image from cameras Osiris Rex will use to study an asteroid called Bennu.
The spacecraft used Earth's gravity to alter course to intercept the asteroid.
Passing Earth was a chance to test the cameras.
Dante Lauretta is principal investigator, effectively chief scientist for the Osiris rex project.  He says there was a lot of suspense as the first pictures downloaded slowly.

"The first team member saw it, let out a shriek she was so excited to pull it up on her laptop, she happened to be the quickest one who could do that.  We all dove across the room to see what was on there...and we're like, get it up on the screen, get it up on the screen and we're fumbling for the HDMI cable and trying to jam it into the USB port.”

Osiris Rex cameras are designed to take pictures of extremely dark surfaces on Bennu.  That led to some problems when they tested the cameras by pointing them at the very bright Earth.
Pointing a low-light camera at a bright planet created a flaw at the top of the picture.
But the test proved the cameras work well---great news for Bashir Rizk, the scientist who designed them.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “So if those cameras are your children, they just did some good work?” 

Bashar Rizk: “We try not to judge our kids in that way but basically, once you launch them, very much like children, you have lost control.  Add money, add information, whatever you think is gonna help but they're on their own and they're doing what they do and if you've done your job right hopefully the results are good and if you haven't hopefully you can live with the results."
And those cameras will be critical as Osiris Rex studies Bennu, then eases in for a sample to bring to Earth.