NASA makes stunning move on Asteroid Bennu samples after OSIRIS-REx mission success - Hindustan Times
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NASA makes stunning move on Asteroid Bennu samples after OSIRIS-REx mission success

Apr 02, 2024 10:12 PM IST

After trying for a long time, NASA's on team finally opened the container holding Asteroid Bennu samples. Scientists worldwide can access them now.

Asteroid Bennu is back in the news again and this time, it is there for a good reason. Ever since the return of the samples via the US space agency NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, the news had been negative as the lid of the container with the samples inside just could not be pried open by the arguably, technologically most advanced scientists in the world. However, after weeks of trying, the lid was opened and the Asteroid Bennu samples, comprising of dust and rocks, were revealed - to the OSIRIS-REx team. However, in a stunning move, these samples are set to be made available to a global audience for research purposes, NASA revealed in a report.

In this image taken from video released by NASA, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft touches the surface of Asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020.(NASA via AP)
In this image taken from video released by NASA, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft touches the surface of Asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020.(NASA via AP)

Great news for scientists worldwide

NASA has announced that the Johnson Space Center in Houston has released the sample catalog to scientists around the world and that they can now request that they be made available to them for research purposes.

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Jemma Davidson, branch chief of Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at Johnson Space Centre explained the significance of this move by saying, “.… really nobody outside of the curation or mission teams has had a chance to see the Bennu samples in detail.” That exclusivity is now over.

What the scientists around the world will get is a part of the copious amounts of samples that the mission brought home from the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx brought as much as 4.29 ounces (121.6 grams) and notably, this is the largest asteroid sample ever collected in space.

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What NASA found

Significantly, NASA has reveled that the OSIRIS-REx sample analysis team, who has found evidence of organic molecules and minerals bearing phosphorous and water in the dust and rock. What this hints at is the possible presence of those very same building blocks that are essential for life.

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In conclusion, it is clear that the saga of Asteroid Bennu is reaching a turning point as NASA shares its precious samples with scientists worldwide, offering a glimpse into the universe's mysteries and potentially unlocking the secrets of life itself.

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