Well, this is interesting.
After a preliminary assessment, NASA announced that asteroid samples taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from asteroid Bennu are rich in water and carbon — “the building blocks of life on Earth,” NASA said. Victorious declaration.
The research supports the theory that space rocks like Bennu that collided with Earth over thousands of years may have played an important role in the evolution of life on our planet.
The samples, as seen in a newly released image showing the outside of the spacecraft’s sample complex, contain hydrated clay minerals rich in carbon, with carbon making up approximately five percent by weight.
“The OSIRIS-REx sample is the largest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever delivered to Earth, and will help scientists investigate the origins of life on our planet for generations to come,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
OSIRIS-REx, which launched in 2016, arrived at the 1,650-foot-tall asteroid after spending two years screaming across the solar system. In 2020, its collection system, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), scanned the asteroid’s surface, collecting an estimated 8.8 ounces of material.
Last month, the spacecraft’s precious payload landed in the Utah desert. Since then, scientists have been scrutinizing the results, excavating the samples inside a clean laboratory. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is now making its way to a different asteroid called Apophis.
Today’s announcement is an exciting, if early, indicator that the mission has already been a major success. In fact, scientists have not yet been able to open TAGSAM itself after finding an abundance of samples in the container containing it, slowing down ongoing analysis.
“The science obtained during the mission so far, along with the samples we have only now acquired, is just the beginning of the wealth of knowledge we can expect from OSIRIS-REx,” said Eileen Stansbury, chief scientist at Johnson Space Center. During today’s announcement.
More about the mission: Scientists are surprised by the abundance of material in the asteroid sample
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