Nasa Hosts Science Chat On Two Upcoming Out Of This World Encounters

No and liftoff of osiris-rex its seventh year mission well welcome and thanks for joining us I’m Dwane Brown with the Office of Communications and welcome to another edition of science chat well we talk about science for the next 30 minutes we are talking about two upcoming out-of-this-world encounters unprecedented NASA planetary missions that could answer questions about our solar.

System and beyond and perhaps where we even come from I’m.

Joined by a scientist with each of these incredible missions how Weaver with New Horizons and Melissa Morris or.

Osiris-rex I get to chat with them but you.

Get to send in your questions via email or on social media with the hashtag ask NASA so let’s get started let’s take a look at missions.

Going to small worlds returning big discoveries hey welcome to science and seconds we’re here to tell you 5 reasons why NASA.

Is sending spacecraft to study Kuiper belt object ultimate Uli and asteroid Bennu first.

Studying the compositions orbits and physical properties of these.

Small worlds can help us understand not only the objects themselves but also the origin of our Sun the earth and our Moon second understanding the distributions of organic molecules water and other.

Volatile compounds can tell us how these essential materials for life formed in space 3rd small worlds provide a window into physical processes and that continued to shape our solar system even.

Today fourth determining the orbits and physical characteristics of objects that could potentially impact earth is critical for understanding the consequences and finally mineral resources may be available in the small world’s for use by human explorers as we venture deeper into our solar system we.

Are so excited to see what big discoveries they hold Wow well let’s get started I Hal Weaver from New Horizons Melissa Morris oh my goodness the public is excited about this let’s let’s.

Start with with you how New Horizons we all.

Remember Pluto what’s up next.

You guys are like doing an encore here what’s what’s going on yeah so it’s just three and a half years ago that the new horizon NASA’s.

New Horizons spacecraft flew about 7500 miles above the surface of Pluto and returned these incredible pictures with turning Pluto from a pixelated blob into this incredible wonderful world with complexity and diversity that you would never known unless you send a spacecraft.

There well that was our first object that we passed in the in the Kuiper belt this third zone of the solar system newly discovered since the early 1990s and now we’re about ready to fly through yet and by another Kuiper belt object a completely different kind Altima to.

Lay on New Year’s Day New Year’s Day we’re gonna talk more about that one okay so so Melissa oh my goodness siress Rex you know this mission has some pretty incredible things that are coming up thoroughly closely good.

Let’s talk about that well the next thing that’s coming up we’re in the approach phase right now and so we will transition from the approach phase to arrival we will arrive at the asteroid Bennu on December 3rd and begin what we call asteroid operations we’ll do a few flybys three of the North Pole one at the equator one at the South Pole kind of take a lay.

Of the land so to speak and begin.

Of in-depth study of the asteroid so that we can gain as much information as possible and find a safe spot to get that sample collection to bring back to earth for study Wow and you know what’s another cool thing about this and we get into the people thing because it’s about the people right you know NASA takes diversity very seriously and I mean you guys I think we’ve got some serious.

Warming power on this mission right absolutely I think this may be one of the most diverse missions that I’ve seen I’m.

The deputy program scientists the deputy principal investigator at University of Arizona is female and I lost count of the number of scientists and engineers great female contribution to this mission and we have of course diversity in other ways too so very happy with that Wow now as the deputy program scientists what does that entail you know we’ve got folks here as Wow that’s got to be a pretty cool position what do you do well I can tell.

You it’s a lot of fun I get to participate in this great mission there are three aspects to the mission itself there’s.

The project which is at headquartered out of not at headquarters but at Goddard Space Flight Center there’s it’s a pile admission for out of the University of Arizona and.

Of course headquarters you know overseas at all I like.

To think of myself as the deputy program scientist is kind of the liaison between especially the the PI and.

The Science Center the science team and headquarters and of.

Course the program scientist Jeff Grossman and how with the project scientists what role does that play in this incredible mission yeah so this project scientist really is the principal interface between the engineering team and the science team so.

As of you know the mission is being developed and all the instruments are being designed we have all these specifications that the engineers try to follow but you find along the development path that there are lots.

Of decisions to be made but you have to take into account with the objectives of scientific objectives of the mission or as well as the engineering aspects and that’s I’m in the middle of all of that there’s a lot of fun um and we’re gonna have them okay before we would take questions just just one thing that these cameras I’m sorry the missions have cameras correct oh absolutely let’s let’s talk about that and then we’re gonna take a social.

Question right yeah so all of the NASA robotic spacecraft exploring the solar system always take their eyes with them you know cameras and new Horizons mission is it’s the same way we have you know a an eight inch telescope that provides the highest resolution of all the cameras on the New Horizons mission.

But we also have a color cameras that we take both the color and gray images and you know fact here’s a model that yeah and actually here’s this is this comes from South Africa it’s handmade bead I mean this is pretty incredible.

Ya know kudos to the the design and creator of this and this is our 8 inch telescope our eagle eyes the ones that give us the highest resolution the Lorri instrument was that the camera that took the incredible Pluto flyby yes yeah but then we also had on this side over here the the Ralph.

Instrument which has a color camera in a near infrared spectral imager and all of these are pointing looking off in the same.

Direction Wow so we’re gonna get to Melissa you guys have a lot of cameras on yours but let’s let’s get to the audience here we were getting inundated with questions here so let’s let’s go to social media and we have a question from social media that’s coming up soon but while we wait for that okay here we.

Go all right from Julia Lewis on.

Facebook ass is the distribution of dust density oh this is a this is one scientists must be a scientist here Julie from the icy bodies and a copy of bulleted by planet nines gravity how does the student dust counter collect data and what do you expect to learn from the dust got a 3-part there who.

Wants to well so since this is you know where New Horizons is headed right into the Kuiper belt planet 9 by the way is Pluto we always like to say and planet you know.

Pluto is definitely not affecting the dust densities so much in the anything in the Kuiper belt this other planet X and we might refer to it which maybe some people have heard about and I think that’s what Julie is referring to yeah it does have.

Some effect on the bodies in the Kuiper belt assuming it is there we don’t really know that for sure and but you do have instruments that are going to be measuring the dust density along the spacecraft trajectory the New Horizons spacecraft trajectory and we’re flying through the densest portion of the.

Kuiper belt right now and as we fly by Ultima Thule that student dusty honor is gonna be counting dust particles all along the way Wow so I’m we have a take.

A question for the media but I want to go.

Back to you Melissa we talked about the cameras the public knows.

Incredible pictures new horizons took a little flyby you got some pretty cool cameras and there’s a picture you guys took of your absolutely absolutely so osiris-rex has a suite of cameras the collectively they’re called Occam’s and they’re used for different purposes some are for navigation.

Some are for imaging and some are actually imaging the sample arm when.

It reaches out to grab that sample but we’ve gotten some close enough we’ve.

Gotten some fantastic images already and there’s a great one that you can find and see already up there for the public to view of a nice rotation of Venice and go to to see that images okay so let’s get to questions because I could talk to these guys all day long from Kimberly PBS.

Kimberly Davis in Arizona what makes osiris-rex sample return capsule secure enough okay getting into that planetary protection type thing is it possible to lose some of the material collected on the way back these are fantastic questions now the sample return capsule for a site that.

It will be used for osiris-rex is proven technology this is the same type of sample return capsule that was used for the Stardust mission when we went and collected.