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Science And Nature

NASA Goddard’s ‘Web Around Asteroid Bennu’ shows in SIGGRAPH film fest

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Alongside cultural heavyweights such as for example Disney’s “Encanto” and Warner Brothers’ “The Batman,” a brief film created at Goddard shares the screen in a few days at a festival honoring standout works of computer animated storytelling.

“A Web Around Asteroid Bennu” highlights the tricky navigation it took for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to get an example from asteroid Bennu in 2020. Produced at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the video will show in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Aug. 8 in the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference’s Electronic Theater, a qualifying venue for Academy Award consideration.

OSIRIS-REx completed a number of complicated maneuvers around Bennu during the period of two-and-a-half years before collecting its sample with a touch-and-go, or TAG, maneuver and exiting orbit. The many segments of the web-like were highlighted completely by data visualizer Kel Elkins, of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard.

“I started dealing with the trajectory data in 2015,” Elkins said. “So when you first see a graphic of all different maneuvers it appears like a rat’s nest. Nonetheless it really was exciting to see these complicated maneuvers in 3D space.”

Bennu is among Earth’s closest planetary neighborsan asteroid roughly the height of a skyscraper, and since late 2018, the area that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission has called home. When OSIRIS-REx arrived on Dec. 3, 2018, it began wrapping Bennu in a complex web of observations. This narrated video presents the mission’s complete trajectory during its time at Bennu. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

“From the trajectory and navigation perspective, the team really did items that haven’t been done before in ,” said Mike Moreau, deputy project manager for OSIRIS-REx at NASA Goddard. “We flew the spacecraft nearer to this object than any spacecraft has ever been flown before; we did maneuvers which were centimeters per second, or millimeters per second, to get the spacecraft wherever it would have to be also to change its orbit.”

The video runs about four minutes altogether, showing the flight path around Bennu from starting to end in an individual, continuous shot.

“We knew we wished to make one big product for departure,” said Dan Gallagher, multimedia producer for at NASA Goddard. “Also it seemed like an all natural fit showing the complete web right from the start to the finish, and release it at the idea whenever we actually left and headed back again to Earth.”

The idea is simple, however the path from idea to your final product included some precise science to pull it off effectively. Just what a viewer sees in this video isn’t merely an imagined drawing, but actual, illustrated data: “Why is the Scientific Visualization Studio a little different is that sun and rain inside our visualizations are driven directly by mission data,” Elkins said. “I love focusing on projects which are predicated on real science data and having the ability to communicate that to people.”

“A Web Around Asteroid Bennu” may be the latest in a string of Goddard productions to get to the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater. Elkins and Gallagher’s “Tour of Asteroid Bennu” was shown there this past year.

With two consecutive appearances from Goddard planetary science and the Scientific Visualization Studio, what comes next for Elkins and Gallagher?

“When I first talked to Dan and said I was excited how exactly we got selected for the next piece, Dan already started planning,” Elkins said. “He was like, ‘Well, we have to anticipate the 3rd one, we have to find the hat trick.'”

“Kel said he was surprised that people were in 2 yrs in a row,” Gallagher said. “But I’m not surprised. Kel is amazing. The SVS is amazing. I believe they deserve to be up there with the very best of Hollywood.”

This month the team plans release a their next piece for OSIRIS-REx: a 360-degree version of “A Web Around Asteroid Bennu” that wraps the video round the viewer, for an interactive experience on VR headsets, cellular devices, and online.

“As amazing since it is to start to see the trajectory before you in the initial format, there’s something about putting the viewer in the center of it and permitting them to shop around,” Elkins said. “You’re in space and OSIRIS-REx is flying around you. We’re really excited to have the ability to publish this additional 360-degree view.”

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Citation: NASA Goddard’s ‘Web Around Asteroid Bennu’ shows in SIGGRAPH film fest (2022, August 5) retrieved 5 August 2022 from

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