NASA releases first intriguing results of the study of samples of the asteroid Bennu

Bennu became a real “gold mine” for the first-ever NASA mission to collect samples from an asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx mission successfully delivered valuable material to Earth from this 500-meter-wide space object at the end of last month. On October 11, NASA presented this unique sample of the world for the first time during a live Internet broadcast, during which the first scientific discoveries made on extraterrestrial material were also announced.

This image taken by NASA in Houston, Texas, shows the exterior of the OSIRIS-REx container with valuable material for science from the asteroid Bennu. Photo: NASA

The members of the mission team did not hold back joyful emotions about the results obtained. Scientists note that the OSIRIS-REx sample has a high carbon and water content. This discovery promises to shed light on the ancient history of our planet and may be important for understanding the origin of life on Earth.

“This is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever returned to Earth. It will help scientists to investigate the origin of life on our planet for the next generations,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. He also added that almost everything NASA did was aimed at finding answers to the questions of who we were and where we came from.

Missions like OSIRIS-REx not only help science better understand asteroids that may pose a threat to Earth, but also allow us to step further in space exploration beyond our planet. The return of samples from the asteroid is a great victory and a chance to study and solve cosmic mysteries.

22-month journey to Bennu

OSIRIS-REx was launched in September 2016 and reached Bennu in December 2018. The probe spent 22 months studying the asteroid from orbit and choosing the best place to take samples. The collection took place in October 2020 and almost did not become catastrophic because the surface of the Bennu turned out to be very porous. Nevertheless, the efforts of the team managed to collect most of the material that was brought into the sample container.

Asteroid Bennu. Source: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The sample has already successfully returned to Earth, but the work has just begun. Team members still don’t know exactly how much material has arrived. Over the next months and years, scientists will study this sample in detail in laboratories around the world. The results of the research can determine the origin of carbon compounds and shed light on the ancient history of our planet.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe touches the asteroid Bennu

The Bennu sample is not just a rock from outer space. It is a witness to the epoch of the formation of our Solar System and will allow us to consider the evolution of our space yard on a larger scale. This journey into space gives us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of our cosmic heritage and find out whether asteroids like Bennu are the building blocks of life on Earth.

Earlier we reported on the chances of the asteroid Bennu colliding with the Earth.

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