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12 Oct, 2023
1 min time to read

NASA has reported that asteroid samples collected by its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from Bennu contain significant amounts of water and carbon, often referred to as the "building blocks of life on Earth."

The findings support the idea that asteroids like Bennu, which have impacted Earth over time, may have played a crucial role in the development of life on our planet.

The samples, rich in carbon, feature hydrated clay minerals, with carbon making up approximately five percent of their weight. This achievement marks the largest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever brought to Earth, offering invaluable insights into the origins of life on our planet, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

OSIRIS-REx, launched in 2016, successfully reached the 1,650-feet-wide Bennu asteroid after a two-year journey through the solar system. In 2020, its Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) collected approximately 8.8 ounces of material from the asteroid's surface.

Last month, the spacecraft delivered its precious cargo to the Utah desert, where scientists have been examining the samples in a controlled laboratory environment. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is currently heading toward another asteroid called Apophis.

While this announcement is a promising indication of the mission's success, scientists have yet to discover TAGSAM itself due to the large number of samples found in its container, delaying analysis.

This mission represents just the beginning of the valuable knowledge that OSIRIS-REx is expected to provide regarding asteroids and their role in the cosmos.