The first analysis of asteroid Bennu samples brought to Earth by NASA earlier this year revealed some interesting results. We’ve already determined that Bennu contains an abundance of carbon and water, but new analysis of the samples has left scientists scratching their heads.
According to one publication Subscribed on natureScientists working with the new specimens from Bennu were particularly surprised by the amount of magnesium, sodium and phosphate found in the skin of pieces taken from Bennu. This structure is rarely seen in meteorites, and has left scientists scratching their heads.
While scientists aren’t quite sure what to do with these Bennu samples, there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to analyzing them fully. For starters, we still don’t have access to the core of the material, which is inside the OSIRIS-REx sample return tray.
NASA is currently manufacturing a special screwdriver that will allow scientists to remove the last screws holding that part of the enclosure closed, giving access to the full range of Bennu samples collected a few years ago. However, for now, there are a lot of pieces found outside the box, including a massive 3.5 cm long boulder, the largest collected on Bennu to date.
In fact, this rock jammed the spacecraft’s assembly mechanism when it was sucked in. Its color is so dark that it is almost black, nature Reports, it has a bluish sheen. Scientists say it is very similar to rocks found on the surface of the asteroid.
The other parts captured by the spacecraft are lighter in color but are still puzzling to scientists working to analyze them. The report indicates that astronomers and museum curators have so far cataloged more than 1,000 Bennu samples. This includes only those that are at least half a millimeter in size.
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