NASA scientists have published the first information about the structure and properties of the matter of Bennu. This information was obtained from the OSIRIS REx probe landing on a celestial object’s surface. These measurements revealed the low density of the asteroid rocks and the presence of minerals that interacted with water.
“Spectroscopic analysis at the OSIRIS REx landing site in Nightingale shows that it contains organic matter, carbonates, and magnetite, as well as water compounds. The study states that we collected over 250 grams of asteroid material, which will be delivered to Earth in 2023.
In September 2016, the American probe OSIRIS REx was successfully launched into orbit. It was part of a mission to collect samples from Bennu’s surface (1999 RQ36). In the past, this asteroid was considered one of the greatest space threats to life on Earth. In early December 2018, the probe made it to the celestial body.
The probe landed at Nightingale, and an asteroid was predicted to be doomsday in October 2020. NASA’s spacecraft collected samples and examined the structure and properties of Bennu using onboard cameras, spectroscopes, and other scientific instruments.
Dante Lauretta (NASA’s OSIRIS–Rex mission science director) led a team of Japanese and American planetary scientists. They used this information to study the structure and properties of the asteroid before OSIRIS–REx approaches Earth in September 2023. A capsule is dropped with the collected samples.
Lauretta’s and his colleagues discovered several interesting characteristics in the asteroid’s data. Scientists have discovered that the asteroid’s matter is exceptionally loose. It has a density of only 500-700 kilograms per cubic meter, which is significantly lower than terrestrial rocks.
Analyzing the spectrum of Bennu’s collected rock samples revealed that there was the organic matter in the bowels of the planet. This is due to the interaction of primary matter from the solar system and liquid water. This makes OSIRIS-REx samples particularly interesting for study, according to researchers.
The scientists also measured the mass of each sample. The probe’s robotic arm captured more than 250g of matter. A significant portion of these reserves comprises samples of deep rock samples that are different in color and structure from the near-surface layers. Scientists hope that the subsequent analysis and comparison of the compositions of these two types will allow them to better understand the structure and function of the primary matter in the solar system.