(Credit: NASA / Goddard / Debora McCallum)
Canadian-built laser mapping system takes aim at an asteroid
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has delivered its contribution to NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission: the Canadian-built OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA).
OSIRIS-REx will study Bennu, an asteroid that has the potential to impact the Earth in the late 2100s. It is Canada's first international mission to return a sample from an asteroid to Earth.
OLA is a sophisticated laser-based mapping system built for the CSA by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. and their partner, Optech. It will create unprecedented 3D maps of Bennu to help the mission team select a site from which to collect a sample.
In exchange for OLA, the CSA will own a portion of the returned sample, which will be studied by Canadian scientists.
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.