Initial Results from the Bennu Asteroid Announced: It Came from an Ancient Ocean World

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.14 - 2024 12:09 PM CET

Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
Initial Results from the Bennu Asteroid Announced.

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NASA scientists, who have begun analyzing pieces brought back from the Bennu asteroid, have announced that the material contained within the asteroid originates from an ancient ocean world.

According to Turkish Trt Haber, this assumption is based on the phosphate crust identified on the asteroid.

The phosphate mineral, rich in calcium and magnesium, had never been seen before in meteorites, which are small space rocks that enter Earth's atmosphere from space.

The chemistry of the mineral bears similarities to rocks emanating from beneath the icy crust of Saturn's moon, Enceladus.

Phosphate is also a crucial building block of life.

Scientists say that the world Bennu was once a part of likely shared similarities with Enceladus but was about half its size.

Given that the opportunity to study an asteroid sample is very rare, these findings are extremely exciting for scientists.

The OSIRIS-REx mission marks the third time in history that we have successfully collected pieces from an asteroid and returned them to Earth.

The round trip for the Bennu sample took a total of seven years and covered a significant distance of 6.21 billion kilometers (3.86 billion miles).

The sample capsule safely returned in September 2023.