The 500-meter asteroid poses a potential threat to our planet, and research into its composition and origin is essential to our understanding of the space environment and possible threats from space.
After arriving at Bennu in 2018, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft spent more than two years exploring the asteroid and collecting material samples before returning to Earth.
In total, more than 1,000 particles larger than half a millimeter were collected, including several large stones up to 3.5 centimeters in size.
“We have over a 1,000 particles that are greater than half-a-millimeter, 28 particles that are greater than a centimeter, and the biggest particle is 3.5 centimeters,” OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta told Space.com.
Loretta, shared some interesting findings regarding the origins of the samples being studied. Investigator noted that the samples contain a phosphate crust that is more similar to materials found on ocean worlds beyond Earth than to typical meteorite fragments.
“Asteroid Bennu may be a fragment of an ancient ocean world,” said Lauretta. “That’s still highly speculative. But it’s the best lead I have right now to explain the origin of that material.”
Although the full results of the study will be presented at a conference next month, the OSIRIS-REx mission has already brought us valuable data on the composition of the asteroid Bennu and its potential connection to ocean worlds.