NASA is tasked with finding clues about the origins of life on Earth Osiris Rex The spacecraft picked up pieces of a solid, debris-packed asteroid called Bennu in late 2020 and delivered them them to the ground About two months ago. On Monday (December 11), scientists got the first detailed description of some of that extraterrestrial group.
“We certainly have moist, organic-rich remnants from the early solar system, which is exactly what we hoped for when we first envisioned this mission nearly 20 years ago.” Dante LaurettaThe mission’s principal investigator said at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference being held this week in California and online. “I fully expect that the cosmochemistry community will go to town on this.”
Loretta, a professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona, said that the parts of the 3-billion-year-old asteroid that have been recovered so far are from the outer covering of the sample capsule and are rich in carbon and organic materials. Molecules. All of the particles are very dark in color and consist of “boulders” that are centimeters and millimeters in size and have a “rough, cauliflower-like texture,” Lauretta said. “They cling to everything we touch them with.”
The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft was designed to be in contact with Bennu for six seconds, but… It ended up sinking 1.6 feet (0.5 m) to the asteroid’s surface for 17 seconds instead. The probe was a victim of its own success, extracting so much material that particles began to leak from the sample collector head, but remained protected inside its outer cover. Loretta on Monday blamed a 1.3-inch (3.5 cm) stone that appeared to cause a small cap on the head to open and let the substance seep into the cap.
Two faulty fasteners persist Prevent technicians from removing the cover To access and index the bulk of the collected sample still trapped inside the head. While they wait for approval to use new tools on the precious rocks, they are using tweezers to pick small rocks through the partially opened flap, bringing the total material collected to 70.3 grams (0.07 kg) – higher than the expected 60 grams (0.06 kg).
Some of this material was shipped for spectroscopy at the NASA-supported Reflection Experiments Laboratory (RELAB) facility in Rhode Island, while another batch was shipped. It was sent to the Natural History Museum in London. Preliminary results using spectroscopy, a scientific technique that reveals the composition of matter by studying how different wavelengths of light are reflected, show a dominant blue spectral signature. This sky-blue color is currently unexplained, but it could mean the space rock contains more water than scientists initially expected, Lauretta said, adding that more results will be shared at a scientific meeting next spring.
The material also contains large amounts of magnesium, sodium and phosphorus, a combination that has so far baffled the team.
“I’ve been looking for meteorites for a long time and I’ve never found anything like this before,” Loretta said. “It’s a surprising material now. What is this material?”
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