GENERICO.ruScienceNASA showed soil samples from the asteroid Bennu

NASA showed soil samples from the asteroid Bennu

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 .NASA for the first time showed soil samples obtained from the asteroid Bennu, they found evidence of the presence of water and carbon, the agency reported.
“Initial analysis shows that the samples contain a lot of water in the form of hydrated clay minerals and carbon,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, presenting images of the resulting materials for the first time.
He emphasized that these are the substances scientists were hoping to find on Bennu.
“These are critical elements in the formation of our own planet, and they can help us determine the origin of the elements that may have given rise to life,” Nelson said, also revealing that the samples also contained organic molecules.

Soil samples from the asteroid Bennu were obtained during the multi-year mission of the OSIRIS-REx probe. It launched to Bennu in 2016, and the capsule with samples of soil collected from the asteroid returned to Earth only at the end of September 2023.
The scientific director of the mission, Dante Loretta, told reporters that they are currently studying soil and dust particles preserved over outside the main capsule with the collected material. It is still unknown how much soil was delivered to the ground, but, as Loretta suggested, it will definitely exceed the stated 60 grams.
“Probably 250 grams, but we will be able to say for sure after opening the main capsule,” the scientist said.

According to NASA plans, the study of the obtained materials will continue for at least two years. Then, about 70% of the material will remain at NASA's disposal for subsequent study, and part will be transferred to museums, universities, and foreign space agencies, the agency said.

NASA especially emphasizes the scientific significance of the mission. As Loretta said, traces of water in the samples obtained could shed light on the origin of life on Earth: “The Earth is habitable because we have oceans, lakes and rivers and rain, and all because clay minerals like the ones we saw on Bennu, came to Earth 4-4.5 billion years ago,” the scientist said.

“We see how water, combining with solid material, ultimately ended up on planets, probably not only on Earth,” noted Loretta
The OSIRIS-REx probe traveled to the asteroid Bennu in September 2016 and entered orbit in December 2018. The next two years were spent remotely studying the asteroid and preparing for the soil sampling operation, which was successfully carried out in October 2020. The probe's return to Earth began in the spring of 2022. The return of the capsule went smoothly; it landed at the intended location at the Pentagon training ground near Salt Lake City in Utah.


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