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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Returns with 121.6 Grams of Asteroid Bennu Sample

asteroid bennu

(Houston, TX) February 17, 2024 – Dust off your textbooks, space enthusiasts! While the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft itself touched down on Earth last September, news of its precious cargo is still sizzling hot. After meticulous counting and analysis, NASA has confirmed that the intrepid explorer brought back a whopping 121.6 grams (4.29 ounces) of asteroid material from Asteroid Bennu, exceeding initial expectations by double!

This haul, the largest ever returned from beyond the Moon, wasn’t just a lucky scoop. Remember the nail-biting moments when the sample container wouldn’t budge? Well, those pesky stuck fasteners may have caused some spillage, but perseverance (and a little ingenuity) prevailed. Through careful extractions, scientists managed to coax out an additional 51.3 grams, adding to the previously measured 70.3 grams and scattered bits.

What is Asteroid Bennu?

But what exactly is this cosmic bounty? Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, is thought to be a pristine time capsule from the early days of our solar system. Studying its dust and pebbles could unlock secrets about how planets formed, the origins of water, and even the potential ingredients for life!

“This is a historic moment for science,” declared Dr. Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator. “The Bennu sample represents a treasure trove of information waiting to be unlocked, and it has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the universe.”

So, where are these extraterrestrial treasures now? Safely tucked away at the Johnson Space Center’s special curation lab, the samples are undergoing rigorous analysis. 70% will be preserved for future generations of scientists, while the remaining 30% will be distributed to international collaborators, opening doors to global scientific exploration.

The journey doesn’t end here. While OSIRIS-REx zooms towards its next mission, scientists on Earth are busy dissecting the Bennu bounty. Their findings promise to rewrite textbooks, ignite imaginations, and perhaps even answer the age-old question: are we alone in the universe? Stay tuned, space fans, the adventure is just beginning!

Key Takeaways:

  • OSIRIS-REx brought back 121.6 grams of asteroid Bennu material, exceeding expectations.
  • The sample holds potential clues about planet formation, water origins, and the possibility of life.
  • 70% of the sample will be preserved for future generations, while 30% will be shared internationally.
  • Scientific analysis is underway, promising exciting discoveries about our solar system’s history.

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