Aerospace Engineering Seminar Series: Kenny Getzandanner, Flight Dynamics Lead, NASA Goddard

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
4:00 p.m.
Virtual Hybrid/2164 Martin Hall, DeWalt Seminar Room

Speaker: Kenny Getzandanner
OSIRIS-REx & SSMO Flight Dynamics Lead at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

TITLE: Navigating an Asteroid: OSIRIS-REx’s Historic Touch-and-Go Sample Collection from Bennu

ABSTRACT: On October 20th, 2020, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft touched down on the surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and collected hundreds of grams of pristine regolith.  The Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event marked the culmination of nearly two years of operating in Bennu’s unique and challenging small body environment.  OSIRIS-REx navigation was particularly demanding, due in large part to Bennu’s relatively small size and gravitational attraction compared to perturbing forces, the a priori uncertainty in geophysical parameters that had to be estimated simultaneously with the spacecraft orbit, and the tight coupling between science, spacecraft operations, and navigation.  OSIRIS-REx relied heavily on optical navigation to achieve required navigation performance, employing cutting-edge centroid/star-based and terrain-relative image processing techniques throughout proximity operations.  Bennu also revealed some surprises of its own, including periodic particle ejection events discovered serendipitously in optical navigation images, and a surface that was much more rough and rugged than anticipated prior to arrival.  The latter led to much tighter TAG performance requirements and the use of an onboard, autonomous terrain-relative navigation system known as Natural Feature Tracking (NFT).  With the sample safely stowed in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft departed the vicinity of Bennu in May 2021 and is on track to return to Earth and release the SRC on September 24th, 2023.  The SRC will land safely at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), bringing back to Earth an invaluable scientific resource that will be studied in labs all around the world for decades to come.

Mr. Kenneth "Kenny" Getzandanner joined the OSIRIS-REx project as a Flight Dynamics engineer and a member of GSFC’s Navigation & Mission Design Branch in 2009. Since then, he has supported the mission through navigation analysis and operations, ground system and tool development, and overall team management. He took over as the Flight Dynamics Manager in August 2019 and has helped lead navigation activities through TAG and now Earth Return.  His expertise and research interests include precision orbit determination and geophysical parameter estimation, optical and terrain-relative navigation, and small-body mission design. Kenny previously led flight dynamics activities for multiple mission proposals and is the Flight Dynamics Lead for GSFC’s Space Science Mission Operations group. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University and the University of Maryland, respectively. He is a proud husband and father of two boys and enjoys spending time with friends and family.


Audience: All Students  Graduate  Undergraduate  Faculty  Staff 

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