Osiris-Rex Returns with Asteroid Rock
A capsule containing a sample of asteroid rock collected from the asteroid, Bennu, returned to Earth a couple of weeks a go.
NASA sent a probe to the asteroid Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid, in 2016. It arrived there at the end of 2018, after which it surveyed the surface for the best place to land and scoop up a sample of the rock to bring back to Earth. The probe did this in 2020. It then started its return to Earth in 2021. The probe, called Osiris-Rex, splashed down last month and NASA scientists whisked it away to get their eager hands on the rock for analysis.
They now report the presence of carbon (it is a carbonaceous asteroid) and water, an interesting combination for material in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. They suggest this may indicate the presence of amino acids, the building blocks of life, is a possibility, or the combination has the potential to form amino acids.
I hope they have the sample quarantined! We don’t want an Alien popping out of the sample.
NASA’s next mission to the asteroids, Psyche, blasted off on 14th October 2023 for the metal bearing asteroid with the mission’s name. They hope to find rich minerals to bring back to Earth to assay. A future asteroid mine? Where’s Loki Mason? I’m sure he’d be interested.