OKSI Set to Fly SAMI to Observe OSIRIS-REx Re-entry, Following Artemis I and SpaceX Missions
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In partnership with NASA and their SCIFLI (Scientifically Calibrated In-Flight Imagery) team, OKSI will once again participate in a high-profile space mission, the atmospheric re-entry of the sample return capsule, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer). NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. space mission to collect a sample from an asteroid, having touched down on the asteroid Bennu in October 2020.
The OSIRIS-REx mission advances understanding of the early solar system and provides a rare opportunity to study atmospheric entry at inter-planetary speeds. During the capsule’s atmospheric re-entry and landing, OKSI’s SAMI (SCIFLI Airborne Multispectral Imager) will observe the sample return capsule and its wake from a NASA Gulfstream aircraft outfitted with optical windows and a stabilized tracking system. SAMI will collect hyperspectral and multi-spectral data from the Ultraviolet (UV) through Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR). This data will enable NASA to validate and improve modeling tools to support future missions, including landing spacecraft on Mars.
Upon return to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will release the capsule containing the asteroid sample for hypersonic atmospheric entry followed by descent under parachute, landing within DoD’s Utah Test and Training Range southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, near the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground.
Previously, SAMI operated from a nose-mounted spherical gimbal on NASA’s WB-57 aircraft to observe the Artemis I Moon Mission launch and SpaceX’s Starship’s first launch attempt. For the Artemis I mission, OKSI used SAMI imagery looking through the plume to measure temperatures on the Space Launch System (SLS) base heat shield, which is the bottom surface area of the main rocket body where the nozzles are attached. SAMI imagery of the SLS plume provided direct evidence of plume-induced flow separation.
“I am immensely proud of OKSI’s integral role in advancing the frontiers of space exploration, as we embark on yet another collaboration with NASA and their esteemed SCIFLI team,” says Chris HolmesParker, CEO, OKSI. “From the success of the Artemis mission, where SAMI captured vital data through plume-induced flow separation, to this forthcoming mission’s study of atmospheric entry at inter-planetary speeds, SAMI continues to be an indispensable asset to the NASA team.”
OKSI is deploying to NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Virginia in preparation for the OSIRIS-Rex mission. There, SAMI and a gimbaled steering mirror will be integrated onto their Gulfstream aircraft. Since the Artemis I and Starship missions, SAMI gained a UV-Visible imaging spectrometer to enhance its capabilities. This improvement allows SAMI to observe hundreds of wavelengths simultaneously to acquire spectrally, spatially, and temporally resolved data. Following integration at NASA LaRC, the jet and OKSI’s operational team will forward deploy to Salt Lake City for the re-entry observation.
The asteroid sample collect will provide scientists a window into the time when the Sun and planets were forming over 4.5 billion years ago.
NASA’s WB-57 aircraft has a massive worldwide following and was the most tracked aircraft in the world during both the Artemis I Moon Mission launch and SpaceX’s Starship launch attempt.
NASA has few WB-57 aircrafts but owns numerous Gulfstream jets. The integration of SAMI onto their Gulfstreams, along with tracking systems and optical-quality windows has opened doors to more flexible and responsive SAMI support for future NASA missions.
SAMI includes a high-speed MWIR filter wheel enabling acquisition of time-resolved imagery acquired in multiple narrow wavebands.
OKSI has been driving innovation and disrupting industry for over 30 years as a leader in customizing sensors, AI/ML, and EO/IR technologies for ground, air, and space applications within the defense, aerospace, and environmental industries. OKSI is committed to solving the world’s most challenging engineering problems by using AI to extract data from across the entire EO/IR spectrum. Their autonomous and intelligent solutions rapidly analyze, identify, and communicate actionable insights, enabling critical decision making, action prioritization, and outcome optimization. OKSI is a privately held small business headquartered in Torrance, California. Learn more at www.oksi.ai