The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) Investigation and Instrument

M. G. Daly, O. S. Barnouin, C. Dickinson, J. Seabrook, C. L. Johnson, G. Cunningham, T. Haltigin, D. Gaudreau, C. Brunet, I. Aslam, A. Taylor, E. B. Bierhaus, W. Boynton, M. Nolan, D. S. Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has contributed to the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA). The OSIRIS-REx mission will sample asteroid 101955 Bennu, the first B-type asteroid to be visited by a spacecraft. Bennu is thought to be primitive, carbonaceous, and spectrally most closely related to CI and/or CM meteorites. As a scanning laser altimeter, the OLA instrument will measure the range between the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and the surface of Bennu to produce digital terrain maps of unprecedented spatial scales for a planetary mission. The digital terrain maps produced will measure ∼7cm per pixel globally, and ∼3cm per pixel at specific sample sites. In addition, OLA data will be used to constrain and refine the spacecraft trajectories. Global maps and highly accurate spacecraft trajectory estimates are critical to infer the internal structure of the asteroid. The global and regional maps also are key to gain new insights into the surface processes acting across Bennu, which inform the selection of the OSIRIS-REx sample site. These, in turn, are essential for understanding the provenance of the regolith sample collected by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The OLA data also are important for quantifying any hazards near the selected OSIRIS-REx sample site and for evaluating the range of tilts at the sampling site for comparison against the capabilities of the sample acquisition device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-924
Number of pages26
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Altimeter
  • Asteroid
  • Bennu
  • Lidar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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