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Asteroid sample return is ‘astrobiologists’ dream’

Asteroid sample return is ‘astrobiologists’ dream’

The OSIRIS-REx container still has most of the asteroid sample inside, but pieces of ancient space rock outside have already shown evidence of organic matter embedded within small pieces of debris.

Wednesday, NASA has revealed the first look In samples returned from the asteroid Bennu during the OSIRIS-REx mission. Scientists conducted an early analysis of the asteroid sample and found an abundance of carbon and water molecules, supporting the theory that the building blocks of life may have reached Earth via asteroids.

“This is the largest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever returned to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during the event held at Johnson Space Center. In Houston. “Carbon and water molecules are exactly the types of materials we wanted to find, they are crucial elements in the formation of our planet and will help us determine the origin of elements that can lead to life.”

The samples were He left Earth at the end of SeptemberThe OSIRIS-REx return capsule made a parachute-assisted landing in the Utah desert after traveling in space for nearly three years. The regulatory team carefully disassembled the TAGSAM (touch sample acquisition mechanism) head to access the bulk of the sample.

A closer look at the asteroid material, all on the outside of the container.
Screenshot: NASATV

Even though they haven’t opened the sample bottle yet, Additional pieces of the asteroid have been found outside TAGSAM– An articulated arm on the spacecraft with a round sampling head at the end used to take the sample. The entire sample far exceeded NASA’s goal of collecting 60 grams from Bennu’s surface. “What has been detected so far from the additional sample is a mixture of fine dust, as well as some what we call medium-sized particles,” Nicole Lunning, OSIRIS-REx chief curator, said on Wednesday.

In order to keep the entire asteroid’s remains outside, the team takes longer to open the container. “The only problem, and it’s a big problem, is that we found a larger number of samples than we expected even before TAGSAM came in,” Francis said. “Because we need to collect each bead so precisely and carefully, it’s taking us a little longer to get to it, but the view so far is incredible,” McCubbin, NASA JSC curator, said at the event.

Over the past two weeks, the team has analyzed some additional samples using electron microscopy, infrared and X-ray diffraction measurements, and stoichiometry. The sample collected so far is 4.7% carbon by weight, making it the highest carbon abundance ever measured. In an extraterrestrial sample, according to

Daniel Glavin, OSIRIS-REx

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analyst. It also contains abundant water in the form of hydrated clay minerals.“We picked the right asteroid,” Glavin said. “Not only that, but we also selected the right specimen: this is an astrobiologist’s dream.”

Bennu is a small near-Earth asteroid that passes near Earth every six years or so. Scientists believe Bennu could have done this. It broke away from a much larger, carbon-rich asteroid about 700 to 2 billion years ago, and has come much closer to Earth since then. Analyzing asteroid fragments in the laboratory will help scientists gather clues about the origins of the solar system. Bennu is also a dangerous near-Earth asteroid; Therefore, studying them more closely can help us learn more about potential threats to our planet.The OSIRIS-REx mission launched in September 2016 and arrived at the asteroid Bennu in December 2018. After nearly two years of observations, the spacecraft touched down on Bennu and Earth. Capture a sample from its surface

in October 2020. On May 10, 2021, OSIRIS-REx bid farewell to Bennu and began its journey home to drop off the precious cargo.

Once the samples reached the ground, the work on the ground was just beginning. The sample analysis team consists of 230 scientists from all over the world, and the pieces returned from the asteroid will be allocated to different teams to conduct an in-depth analysis of Bennu’s composition. NASA will keep at least 70% of the sample at Johnson Space Center for future research decades from now, with the hope of taking advantage of advanced technology in the coming years. Some of the asteroid’s fragments will also be available for public viewing at the Smithsonian Institution, Space Center Houston and the University of Arizona. For more space travel in your life, follow us s (formerly Twitter) and bookmark the dedicated Gizmodo page Space flights

This content has been automatically translated from the original article. Due to the nuances of machine translation, there may be slight differences. For the original version, click here.

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