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NASA has collected a sample of an asteroid that could hit Earth

NASA has collected a sample of an asteroid that could hit Earth

NASA has officially presented the first sample collected from the asteroid Bennu. The OSIRIS-REx asteroid probe landed on Earth in September 2023, bringing with it the unique sample. Scientists say this rock is the largest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever brought to Earth.

NASA has revealed the first sample collected from the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu.

The 100-250 gram specimen collected by the OSIRIS-REx mission was presented at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington on Friday.

“The OSIRIS-REx mission is an amazing scientific achievement that promises to shed light on what makes our planet unique.” said Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Bennu is a potentially dangerous asteroid, with a 1 in 2,700 chance of colliding with Earth in 2182. Of the currently known potentially hazardous objects, Bennu has the highest chance of colliding with Earth.

“This is the largest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever brought to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “Carbon and water molecules are exactly the elements we wanted to find. These are crucial elements in the formation of our planet and will help determine the origin of the elements that may have led to the evolution of life.” he added.

Bennu is a B-type asteroid, meaning it contains large amounts of carbon and possibly many ancestral molecules that were present on Earth when life first appeared.

OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in October 2022. Upon contact with the asteroid, it fired a jet of nitrogen onto the asteroid’s surface, both to induce adhesion and to prevent it from sinking too much. The small explosion sent rocks and dust flying around the spacecraft, and some of the rocky debris fell into a container aboard OSIRIS-REx.

The spacecraft left the asteroid in May 2021 and landed on Earth in September 2023 with the unique sample.

Featured Image: OSIRIS-REx image of near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu (Image: wikipedia.org)

source: Live sciences

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