Asteroid Bennu Land Fragments at the Smithsonian

After traveling through space for 200 million miles, rocky fragments of asteroid Bennu were dropped to Earth by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in late September. Now, some of those pieces will be put on display for museum goers to see firsthand.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will be unveiling The first public display of the asteroid sample on Friday, November 3. The museum, located in Washington, DC, will be the first to offer curious space lovers a look at ancient dark rocks and dust collected from asteroid Bennu.

The specimen will be displayed in the museum’s Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals Meteorite Gallery. The display will also include scale models of the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft on loan from Lockheed Martin and the Atlas V 411 rocket carrying the spacecraft, courtesy of United Launch Alliance.

“This exhibit is our first chance to share this incredible journey with the public,” Tim McCoy, the museum’s curator of meteorites who worked on the OSIRIS-REx mission, said in an emailed statement.

Bennu is a small, near-Earth asteroid that passes near Earth every six years. Scientists believe that Bennu may have been torn apart by a much larger carbon-rich asteroid about 700 million to 2 billion years ago, and has moved very close to Earth since then.

The asteroid was selected as the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which landed on the near-Earth asteroid in October 2020 and snatched a rocky sample. dropped asteroid samples on September 24 in the Utah desert, from where it was transported to the Johnson Space Center, where a curation team is trying to carefully open the canister containing the massive sample. This was NASA’s first successful attempt to bring back samples from a distant asteroid (Japan brought back samples of asteroid Ryugu in 2020).

The team recently got into trouble When two of the 35 fasteners on the TAGSAM head, a round head that holds the sample to the asteroid, could not be removed. Luckily, there was one Abundance of dust and rock outside Tagsam Head, and team members also managed to extract more sample using tweezers and scoops. NASA is currently preparing a plan to safely open the chamber door.

However, the asteroid samples extracted so far, already According to NASA, this exceeds the mission’s goal of collecting 60 grams of debris from the asteroid. To date, the space agency has recovered 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) of rocks and dust. Preliminary analysis of the sample found a Abundance of carbon and water moleculesExactly the kind of thing scientists were hoping to find on NASA’s first returned asteroid sample.

“Having now returned to Earth without exposure to our water-rich atmosphere or the life that fills every corner of our planet, the Bennu samples promise to tell us about the water and organisms before life arrived on our unique planet. Are, McCoy said.

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(Tags to translate) Asteroid(T) Lockheed Martin(T) New Frontiers Program(T) NASA(T) OASIS-REX(T) Tim McCoy(T) Planetary Defense(T) 162173 Ryugu(T) Near-Earth Object(T) 25143 Itokawa(T) Environment(T) 101955 Bennu(T) Sample-Return Mission(T) TagsAM(T) Gizmodo

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