Celebrate the UA's Latest NASA Mission with Bennuval

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The ICAMS is a suite of cameras that will send images of Bennu back to earth.
  • The ICAMS is a suite of cameras that will send images of Bennu back to earth.

The UA is now just about a year away from the launch of OSIRIS-REx, the plucky space robot that will travel to the near-earth asteroid Bennu, orbit around it while taking photos and other measurements, and then swoop in to grab a sample and send it back to earth.

Last week, the OSIRIS REx team at the UA Lunar and Planetary Labs showed off the ICAMS, a suite of cameras that will serve as the spacecraft's eyes. The cameras were built here in Tucson and are shipping off to Denver's Lookheed Martin facility, where the spacecraft is being built.

OSIRIS-REx instrument scientist Bashar Rikz explains what the cameras do:

One of our most important assets is a trio of cameras called the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite, or OCAMS, under construction at the University of Arizona. The design of OCAMS allows us to image Bennu over 9 orders-of-magnitude in distance, from an initial distance of 1-million kilometers (over 620,000 miles) down to 2 meters (6.5 feet). The camera suite is similar to a lookout nestled in the crow’s-nest of a tall ship. This scout must observe Bennu as we approach, survey, and recon the asteroid, and tell the ship’s navigator where to go.
To let Tucsonans know more about this way-cool space mission, the OSIRIS-REx team is putting on a party on Saturday, Sept. 12, at downtown's Fox Theatre. Bennuval will feature OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab, as well as Geoff Notkin, star of Science Channel’s Meteorite Men; the comedic Tucson Improv Movement; fiery stunt team Flam Chen, and the ChamberLab music project. Tickets are just 

You can learn more about the OSIRIS-REx mission here and here.

Here are the details on Bennuval, sent over by Zona Politics associate Jennifer Powers, who is organizing the space-age shindig:

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Outer space takes the stage when Dante Lauretta, University of Arizona Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry and Principal Investigator on NASA’s OSIRIS REx Mission, is joined by Geoff Notkin, star of Science Channel’s Meteorite Men, to present Bennuval! An Evening of Space, Art and Music. This live variety show features performances by some of Tucson’s most innovative entertainers, including comedic troupe Tucson Improv Movement, daredevil acrobats Flam Chen, and avant-garde music project, ChamberLab. The Art of Planetary Science will exhibit works created from and inspired by the solar system and the scientific data with which we explore it. Meteorites will also be on display, completing the otherworldly atmosphere of this unique event.

Bennuval! takes its name from the asteroid Bennu, destination of OSIRIS-REx. Bennuval! celebrates the University of Arizona’s accomplishments in space as part of the vibrant creative culture that thrives in Tucson by bringing together art and outer space in an entertaining setting. Both imaginative and informative, Bennuval! establishes Tucson’s reputation as a space age city.

The presenting sponsor of Bennuval! is the University of Arizona College of Science & Galileo Circle. Other sponsors include Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, TEP, Godat Design, BRINKmedia, Bill Westcott, Paragon Space Development, Strategic Space Development, Kinetx Aerospace, Indigo Information Services and Volvo of Tucson.

Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show begins at 7:00 p.m.  

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