Surprising asteroid sample reveals Bennu may have originated from an ocean world

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Science

Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.An early analysis of a sample collected from the asteroid Bennu suggests that the space rock had an unexpectedly water-rich past — and it may have even splintered off from an ancient ocean world.The NASA OSIRIS-REx mission scooped up the 4.3-ounce (121.6-gram) pristine sample from the near-Earth asteroid in 2020 and returned it to Earth last September.Since then, scientists have been analyzing the asteroid’s rocks and dust to see what secrets they may contain about the asteroid’s composition and whether it could have delivered the elements for life to Earth. Asteroids also intrigue scientists because they are the leftover remnants from the formation of the solar system.An initial review of some of the sample, shared in October, suggested that the asteroid contained a large amount of carbon.During a new analysis of the sample, the team discovered that Bennu’s dust is rich in carbon, nitrogen and organic compounds, all of which helped form the solar system. These ingredients are also essential to life as we understand it and could help scientists better understand how Earth-like planets evolve.A study detailing the findings appeared Wednesday in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.“OSIRIS-REx gave us exactly what we hoped: a large pristine asteroid sample rich in nitrogen and carbon from a formerly wet world,” said study coauthor Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a statement.The elements for lifeThe biggest surprise was finding magnesium-sodium phosphate within the sample, which remote sensing didn’t initially detect when OSIRIS-REx, or the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security — Regolith Explorer missio …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnSign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.An early analysis of a sample collected from the asteroid Bennu suggests that the space rock had an unexpectedly water-rich past — and it may have even splintered off from an ancient ocean world.The NASA OSIRIS-REx mission scooped up the 4.3-ounce (121.6-gram) pristine sample from the near-Earth asteroid in 2020 and returned it to Earth last September.Since then, scientists have been analyzing the asteroid’s rocks and dust to see what secrets they may contain about the asteroid’s composition and whether it could have delivered the elements for life to Earth. Asteroids also intrigue scientists because they are the leftover remnants from the formation of the solar system.An initial review of some of the sample, shared in October, suggested that the asteroid contained a large amount of carbon.During a new analysis of the sample, the team discovered that Bennu’s dust is rich in carbon, nitrogen and organic compounds, all of which helped form the solar system. These ingredients are also essential to life as we understand it and could help scientists better understand how Earth-like planets evolve.A study detailing the findings appeared Wednesday in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.“OSIRIS-REx gave us exactly what we hoped: a large pristine asteroid sample rich in nitrogen and carbon from a formerly wet world,” said study coauthor Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a statement.The elements for lifeThe biggest surprise was finding magnesium-sodium phosphate within the sample, which remote sensing didn’t initially detect when OSIRIS-REx, or the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security — Regolith Explorer missio …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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