The OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft and the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM)

the OSIRIS-REx Team

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The Origins, Spectral-Interpretation, Resource-Identification, Security and Regolith-Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft supports all aspects of the mission science objectives, from extensive remote sensing at the asteroid Bennu, to sample collection and return to Earth. In general, the success of planetary missions requires the collection, return, and analysis of data, which in turn depends on the successful operation of instruments and the host spacecraft. In the case of OSIRIS-REx, a sample-return mission, the spacecraft must also support the acquisition, safe stowage, and return of the sample. The target asteroid is Bennu, a B-class near-Earth asteroid roughly 500 m diameter. The Lockheed Martin-designed and developed OSIRIS-REx spacecraft draws significant heritage from previous missions and features the Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism, or TAGSAM, to collect sample from the surface of Bennu. Lockheed Martin developed TAGSAM as a novel, simple way to collect samples on planetary bodies. During short contact with the asteroid surface, TAGSAM releases curation-grade nitrogen gas, mobilizing the surface regolith into a collection chamber. The contact surface of TAGSAM includes “contact pads”, which are present to collect surface grains that have been subject to space weathering. Extensive 1-g laboratory testing, “reduced-gravity” testing (via parabolic flights on an airplane), and analysis demonstrate that TAGSAM will collect asteroid material in nominal conditions, and a variety of off-nominal conditions, such as the presence of large obstacles under the TAGSAM sampling head, or failure in the sampling gas firing. TAGSAM, and the spacecraft support of the instruments, are central to the success of the mission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Asteroid
  • Bennu
  • Spacecraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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