Inspenet, October 13, 2023.
The first analyzes of samples from the asteroid Bennu have revealed the presence of water and organic molecules, particularly carbon. This implies that the fundamental elements for life could be contained in that asteroid.
This discovery raises the possibility of supporting the hypothesis that life could have arrived on Earth from space, transported by one of these celestial bodies that also roam the universe. However, participants in the process, including NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, have emphasized that “this is just the beginning of our exploration.”
” This is a scientific treasure that will be unraveled in the coming decades ,” said Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, as well as responsible for the analysis of the remains of the asteroid Bennu.
Asteroid Bennu: what was found in the sample
Despite the abundant presence of dust and small stones around the capsule that contained the sample, it provided a first glimpse of what could be found inside. In fact, some preliminary evaluations have already been carried out, including observations on the diversity of particle sizes and colors, indicating the possible presence of different types of rocks.
To date, various analysis techniques have been carried out, which have highlighted its diverse internal structure and revealed the significant presence of carbon and water. Lauretta expressed her excitement about it, saying: ” We are eager to discover what it holds inside . With each revelation of the asteroid Bennu, we get closer to unraveling the mysteries of our cosmic heritage .”
It is important to remember that the Osiris-Rex mission began in September 2016 and lasted two years until it reached its destination, the asteroid Bennu, which is approximately 500 meters long. The probe mapped the asteroid in detail and in 2020 managed to descend to collect samples.
This task proved complicated, as the asteroid Bennu was found to be much more porous than originally anticipated. The spacecraft had to use its rockets to avoid getting stuck, as it sank about half a meter into the surface of the asteroid.
It is not the first time that samples have been collected from an asteroid, as previous missions such as Hayabusa 1 and Hayabusa 2 of the Japanese space agency JAXA carried out similar missions. However, it is worth noting that these Japanese missions managed to recover only about a tenth of the amount of material collected by Osiris-Rex, with samples obtained from the asteroids Itokawa and Ryugu.
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