ASTEROID BENNU (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     13th October 2023        

Context: Recently returned samples from asteroid Bennu suggest potential building blocks of life on Earth, with evidence of high-carbon content and water-bearing clay minerals.

Asteroid Bennu

  • Situated approximately 200 million miles from Earth.
  • Discovered in 1999 by the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team.
  • Classified as a B-type asteroid, indicating a high carbon and mineral content.
  • Estimated to have 20-40 percent of its interior as empty space, suggesting it formed within the first 10 million years of the solar system's existence, making it around 4.5 billion years old.
  • Believed to have originated in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and its orbital dynamics are gradually bringing it closer to Earth due to gravitational interactions and the Yarkovsky effect, caused by absorbed sunlight.

OSIRIS-Rex Mission

  • Launched by NASA in 2016, the OSIRIS-Rex Mission, or the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer, embarked on a voyage to Bennu.
  • It journeyed to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu with the goal of returning a sample to Earth for study.
  • This mission aims to aid scientists in studying planetary formation, the origins of life, and enhancing our comprehension of asteroids with potential Earth impact.