How NASA snagged a sample from an asteroid 220 million miles away

“One in every of the extra fun ways of engineering is targeted on the total issues that can plug shameful,” Olivia Billett says.

Billett is a Lockheed Martin engineer who led a team that designed and operated the scientific mission of the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx. This week, the auto perceived to grab a geological sample from an asteroid 220 million miles away that it would return to earth, a brilliant attempting technical fulfillment. And one reason it did used to be that Billett and her colleagues had been ready for some deep space surprises.

Billett and Lockheed beget expertise with missions to Mars and diverse planets, but faced unusual challenges when exploring the asteroid Bennu. “When you happen to are in orbit spherical a planet, gravity is such dominant force and all the pieces else is noise,” Billett explains. “You realize exactly the build the spacecraft shall be relative to the planet weeks into the future.”

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