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The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) – Our Heat Sensor and Mineral Mapper

Vacuum Technology

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Guest Blogger: Vicky Hamilton, OTES Deputy Instrument Scientist

To help characterize the asteroid Bennu and aid in the selection of a scientifically compelling sampling site, OSIRIS-REx carries a pair of complementary spectrometers, one of which is called the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer, or OTES. OTES is being developed and built at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. During several phases of the mission, OTES measures the energy emitted by Bennu over wavelengths of approximately 5 – 50 microns, also called the thermal infrared. At these wavelengths, virtually all minerals have unique spectral signatures that are like fingerprints, which will help the science team to understand what minerals are present on the surface of Bennu and search for minerals of particular interest, such as those that contain water. Additionally, the emitted heat energy (temperature) at these wavelengths can tell the science…

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