Asteroid Bennu has been moving with the Earth for a million years


The study published on Monday in the journal Nature.
If this asteroid sounds familiar, it’s because a boulder-covered space rock was the target of a recent NASA historical mission. The OSIRIS-REX spacecraft briefly touched the asteroid’s surface on 20 October to collect the sample that was returned to Earth in 2023.

This was NASA’s first time landing and collecting a sample from an asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx mission is for Origin, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.

Beyond its landmark touchdown, the OSIRIS-REx mission has revealed information and surprises about the asteroid since its launch in 2016 and arriving in Benue in 2018.

The research is the latest in a string of studies to be published using images from a suite of cameras mounted on spacecraft.

New images show historical landings and sample collections on NASA's spacecraft asteroid

Bennu was once part of a larger asteroid core body in the main asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, scientists believe. When this large asteroid collided with another object, Beanu broke and became its own asteroid. Then, it went into an orbit close to the Earth.

Benue is about the height of the Empire State Building. What’s more, the asteroid has a one-in-700 chance of impacting the Earth at the end of the next century. Currently, it is about 200 million miles from Earth.

NASA successfully collected a sample from the asteroid Bennu, but some of it is leaking into space

But when it reached space near Earth, scientists were not sure. He analyzed Benue’s images showing various craters on the surface of the asteroid.

Studying the size and depth of these craters helped researchers understand when sediments formed, and where the effects caused by the craters in the solar system were.

2 different asteroids seen by spacecraft can be part of 1 large asteroid once

Larger craters of up to 16 feet are spotted on the asteroid’s boulder, when the asteroid was probably still in the asteroid belt. Similarly, craters smaller than 19.6 inches are the result of recent impacts by micrometers during asteroid time in near-Earth space.

Researchers used the size and age of the craters to create a timeline and determined that Bennu reached its current orbit 1.75 million years ago.

The authors write in the study, “The history of an asteroid is determined in large part by its strength against collisions with other objects.”

“Our derived exposure age of Beanu’s bollards is significantly lower than the total lifespan of this asteroid after the catastrophic disintegration of its parents. As the main asteroid belt of the source region (asteroids near Earth), Benue has his Spent most of the lifetime. In a synchronized environment that has more than one in its current class. ”

Full of surprises

There are more than one million known asteroids in the solar system, but when scientists determined where they wanted to send OSIRIS-REx, Benue had the right size, location, and composition.

And after a few years orbiting and imaging the asteroid, the mission team may not be happy with their choice.

This does not mean that Bennu has not presented challenges along the way, but those challenges have thrown a lot of light on the asteroid.

Scientists expected that Benue would have a surface similar to a sandy beach covered with fine grain material that would be easy to sample. But when the spacecraft reached Bennu in 2018, researchers looked at the size of the buildings on the surface as well as the mountains. In fact, there were very few spots in Boulder.

Those rocks were very porous and fragile – and contained organic molecules and hydrated minerals. Benue is a carbon-rich asteroid and its intricate surface structure suggests that it may contain building blocks of life that were once transported to Earth by asteroid impacts.

This asteroid is ejecting particles into space.  A spacecraft can tell us why

Soon after arriving in Benue, the spacecraft’s cameras captured images of material being emitted from the asteroid into space. Benue is an active asteroid with a surface that kills rocks, pebbles and fine material into space on a regular basis. The mission team was surprised to see these plums.

“We discovered a new world that offered us more than we expected,” said Patrick Michel in an email to the director of research and study at the French National Center for Scientific Research at the Paris National Center for Scientific Research.

“This is because its surface is so rich and diverse, geographically, and because many of our assumptions have been proven wrong, such as when we go into the unknown. OSIRIS-REx shows us that asteroids compare to ordinary stones in space I have too many complexities! ”

And the data, pictures and samples collected by OSIRIS-REX will only carry the wonder and truth associated with this tricky asteroid further.

“By returning samples from primitive asteroids such as Benue and analyzing them at the highest possible accuracy with instruments in our laboratories, we will best contribute to two fundamental questions: How did our solar system evolve from a disk of gas and dust? The young Sun has become a planetary system, and how did life emerge on Earth? ”Mitchell said.

“The adventure continues with ourselves. It’s food for dreams and knowledge, in a period when we all do it!”

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