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They found “black dust” when opening the Osiris-Rex probe with an asteroid sample

They found “black dust” when opening the Osiris-Rex probe with an asteroid sample

the a pot The investigation was opened on Tuesday The Osiris-Rex mission collected asteroid fragments and announced the discovery of “black dust and remains.”“Inside, although the bulk of the sample has not yet been examined.

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Seven years after its launch… The probe landed on Sunday in the American desert in the state of Utah, United StatesAfter a very dangerous maneuver.

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The sample was taken in 2020 from Asteroid BennuIt contains about 250 grams of matter, according to estimates by the US Space Agency.

During that process, NASA realized that the lid of the collection container could not be closed. But the sample was finally secured and transported to the probe as planned.

However, because of this failure, scientists expected to find traces of the sample outside the collection chamber, in the box in which it was placed.

This is the first time that NASA has been able to bring samples from an asteroid to Earth. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was able to recover the remains of the asteroid in 2020, but they were in a small amount, no more than a teaspoon of dust and rocks.

On Tuesday, the first lid was opened in a sealed room Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The space agency announced that NASA teams “immediately found black dust and debris,” without specifying whether they were asteroid fragments.

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“time capsule”

According to what Argentine Lucas Paganini, a planetary scientist at NASA, told EFE, it brought this fact Molecules dating back to the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago and could shed light on questions that have intrigued humanity for centuries.Like the origin of life and the solar system itself.

“Asteroids are very important because they are debris from the planetary formation period 4.5 billion years ago. They are like time capsules, the equivalent of dinosaur fossils that let us know what was happening millions of years ago. “In this case, with our mission, we are traveling billions of years back,” Paganini explained.

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Scientists believe that these molecules could have arrived on our planet on board meteorites, so analyzing Bennu’s composition will help them verify this hypothesis and clarify the role that celestial bodies could play in the origin of life.

Specifically, scientists chose Bennu because it is relatively rich in organic molecules, plus it has a known orbit, which made it easier for the Osiris-Rex mother ship to get close to take samples.

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It was discovered in 1999, Bennu is believed to have formed from fragments of a much larger asteroid after the impact. It is half a kilometer wide, roughly the height of the Empire State Building, and its rough black surface is littered with large boulders.

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In addition, there is a hypothesis that Bennu will collide with Earth in 159 years, and although this probability does not exceed 0.057%, this NASA mission will also work to figure out how to change the asteroid’s path if necessary, Paganini told EFE.

These materials will be analyzed and a “meticulous disassembly” of the collection chamber carried out “in order to access the main sample inside,” the space agency wrote.

A press conference is scheduled to be held on October 11 to announce the exhibition.

Analyzing the composition of asteroid Bennu will allow scientists to better understand how the solar system formed and how Earth became habitable. The value of a sample is that it is not contaminated with other substances, which may provide information that was not previously known. Meteorites often contain information that is useful to scientists, but by the time they reach Earth, that information has already changed.

Scientists believe that this space body (500 meters in diameter) is rich in carbon and contains water molecules coated with minerals.

There is a small risk (one chance in 2700) that Bennu will hit Earth in 2182, which would be catastrophic.

In 2022, NASA was able to divert an asteroid by colliding with it.

Nearly 70% of the remains will be preserved, giving future generations of scientists the opportunity to answer the great unknown about the origin of the universe using technology that we cannot even imagine today.

AFP with information from EFE

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