The OSIRIS-REx probe took a rock sample from the surface of the mysterious Bennu asteroid. There would be nothing extraordinary about it, if not for the fact that the entire project was 200 million kilometers from Earth, and that NASA scientists were performing such an unusual task for the first time.
This mission is groundbreaking not only for the US but also for all mankind. The OSIRIS-REx probe has been observing the asteroid Bennu for 2 years. First, the vehicle carefully mapped the surface of the object and created its three-dimensional map, and then preparations for a quick landing and sampling for further research on Earth were carried out.
Last night, we managed to accomplish this most important mission objective, which was to collect rock samples weighing about 2 kilograms. Next year, the probe will go on a return mission to our planet, and in September 2023 it will land in Utah. The rock samples will go to various American laboratories, where they will be analyzed over the next several years.
It is worth noting here that it will be the largest supply of rock material from an extraterrestrial object since the Apollo mission, in which astronauts brought hundreds of kilograms of lunar rocks to Earth. Scientists expect to discover organic material, i.e. the building blocks of life, there. Objects such as Bennu hide the secrets of the formation of the solar system, including the Earth. Finally, we will find out where the water and life came from on our planet.
Remarkably, Bennu's first studies show us that she can not only be a doorman for our planet, but also a life sower. As the probe approached the object, the scientists launched three spectrometers on board. They collected interesting data on the composition of the asteroid's surface. Data analyzes allowed to determine that the object contains minerals containing combined oxygen and hydrogen atoms, i.e. hydroxyl groups.
They are found throughout the asteroid in clay minerals. However, Bennu is too small to contain water by itself. It was probably present on the primary asteroid that formed Bennu, and therefore we were able to detect it. It is a typical remnant of the early formation of the solar system, so it is also an ideal material for research into primitive volatile and organic substances.
The asteroid Bennu will potentially pose a threat to our planet in 2135. The probability that Bennu will then collide with Earth is only 1: 2700, but despite this fact, astronomers do not underestimate the whole situation, because if it is cosmic rocks, it is by the end nothing is for sure.
Bennu is a cosmic rock with a diameter of 560 meters, weighs 70 million tons, moves at a speed of 28 km / s, orbits the Sun every 437 days and is on a collision line with the Earth, approaching us every 6 years. If it hit our planet, it would cause an explosion with a magnitude of 1.15 netoasis of TNT, about 23 times larger than the largest explosion of a hydrogen bomb. Once OSIRIS-REx has completed the study of the asteroid Bennu, we will know the exact estimates and will use them to create an action plan for future space rock neutralization missions.