Canada takes aim at an asteroid – The Canadian Space Agency delivers its contribution to the first U.S. mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has delivered a sophisticated laser-based mapping system, its contribution to a NASA mission that will be Canada’s first international attempt to bring a sample of an asteroid to Earth. NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission will study Bennu, an asteroid that has the potential to impact the Earth in the late 2100s.

“The scans that our laser altimeter will return from this asteroid will enable Canadian scientists to take part in an international effort that could revolutionize our understanding of the solar system.  I’m proud that the Canadian Space Agency is supporting NASA on such an ambitious international mission and pushing science and innovation to exciting new frontiers.” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development 

The Canadian-built OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) has arrived at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities near Denver, Colorado. In the coming months, OLA will be integrated onto the spacecraft and undergo spacecraft-level testing in preparation for launch in September 2016.

OSIRIS-REx will reach Bennu in late 2018 with the sample planned to return to Earth in 2023. The CSA’s total expected investment in OSIRIS-REx for the full life cycle of the mission is $61 million over 15 years to support the development of OLA and the science team.

Built for the CSA by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. and their partner, Optech, OLA will create unprecedented 3D maps of Bennu to help the mission team select a site from which to collect a sample.The CSA will own a portion of the returned sample, which will be studied by Canadian scientists.

SOURCE Canadian Space Agency

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