Excitement fills the air as scientists eagerly await the arrival of a special cargo from the asteroid Bennu, currently aboard the OSIRIS-REx space probe. Once it reaches the Johnson Space Center of NASA in Houston, this invaluable sample will undergo serious analysis.
With hopes of unraveling the mysteries surrounding the formation of our solar system and the planet, scientists will carefully study and store pieces of rock and dust, according to Phys.org. As they honor the legacy of past lunar missions, they set their sights on an even more exciting future for astronomy, armed with advanced technology to decode the secrets from deep space.
Nicole Lunning explained for AFP, as Phys.org quotes:
We don’t expect there to be anything living but (rather) the building blocks of life,
That’s really what motivated going to this type of asteroid, to understand what the precursors were that may have fostered life in our solar system and on Earth.
On the grand cosmic calendar, the spacecraft’s rendezvous with the Utah desert is marked two months away from now, on September 24, bearing a precious bounty of approximately 8.8 ounces (250 grams) of celestial treasure. The daring heist was no ordinary feat; in the daring dance of October 2020, the probe brushed against the asteroid’s surface for a fleeting moment. Then, like a magician’s trick, a burst of compressed nitrogen was unleashed, coaxing the elusive dust sample into the waiting arms of the spacecraft’s eager grasp.
Enter stage left, the enigmatic celestial actor is known as 101955 Bennu, meaning a carbonaceous asteroid hailing from the Apollo group, whose debut was witnessed by the keen eyes of the LINEAR Project on September 11, 1999. This cosmic wanderer is wrapped in an aura of intrigue and bears the dubious honor of being classified as a potentially hazardous object, securing a spot on the prestigious Sentry Risk Table.