NASA believes it knows why the OSIRIS-REx asteroid probe return capsule failed to deploy its parachute as planned while descending through Earth’s atmosphere on September 24.
The problem, which did not prevent the capsule Landing safely and softly that day.It was probably caused by crossed cables.
“After a thorough review of descent video and extensive capsule documentation, NASA found that inconsistent definitions of wiring labels in the design plans likely caused engineers to wire the parachute release triggers incorrectly. that signals intended to deploy the parachute would fire out of order,” agency officials wrote in a blog post on tuesday (December 5th).
“In the system design drawings, the word ‘main’ was used inconsistently between the device that sends the electrical signals and the device that receives the signals,” they added. “On the signal side, ‘main’ meant the main parachute. By contrast, on the receiver side, ‘main’ was used as a reference to a pyrotechnic that is fired to release the parachute canister cover and deploy the “funnel. The engineers connected the two power grids, causing the parachute deployment actions to occur out of order.”
The return parachute was supposed to deploy at an altitude of 30,000 meters (100,000 ft), which would help slow and stabilize the descent of the return capsule prior to deployment of the main parachute at about 3,000 m (10,000 ft).
However, as a result of the wiring problem, the funnel retaining cord was cut upon deployment, leaving the conduit still in the capsule. The drogue remained there until the capsule reached 2,740 m (9,000 ft), when the main parachute opened. At that moment, the drogue jumped into the air and fell, with nothing to hold him to the capsule.
But the main parachute overcame the problem. Its “design was robust enough to stabilize and decelerate the capsule, resulting in a safe landing more than a minute earlier than expected,” NASA officials wrote in the statement. “There was no negative impact on the OSIRIS-REx Bennu sample as a result of the unexpected deployment of the drogue.”
Bennu is the nearby Earth asteroid that OSIRIS-REx visited, studied and sampled. The material that the probe stuck to the surface of Bennu in October 2020 is now being processed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.
Once this is done, researchers around the world will study the sample, looking for clues to the early days of the solar system and the role that carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu may have played in creating the building blocks of life. Land A long time ago.
The return capsule’s parachute release system is inside a protective glove box next to the Bennu sample at JSC, NASA officials said. “Once the healing team completes processing of the sample material (the mission’s top priority at this time), NASA engineers will be able to access the parachute hardware and verify the cause,” they wrote.