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Space & Astronomy

Building blocks of life found in OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample

By T.K. Randall
October 13, 2023 · Comment icon 1 comment
OSIRIS-REx sample collected from the asteroid Bennu.
A first look at the sample. Image Credit: NASA / Erika Blumenfeld and Joseph Aebersold
An initial analysis of the sample collected from the asteroid Bennu has yielded some promising results.
Back in September 2016, NASA sent a spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, to rendez-vous with Bennu - a huge 500-meter-wide asteroid with the potential to strike the Earth sometime in the future.

After arriving there in 2018, it spent over two years investigating the asteroid and collecting sample material before heading back home. Following a further two-year journey through the solar system, it finally arrived back on Earth last month, much to the delight of NASA's science team.

Now, at last, an initial analysis of the sample it collected has provided some preliminary results.

Most notably, the material appears to contain water and large amounts of carbon - a prime indicator that Bennu may be carrying the building blocks of life.
It has long been theorized that asteroids and comets may have played a key role in delivering the necessary materials needed for life to develop on Earth billions of years in the past.

"The OSIRIS-REx sample is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever delivered to Earth and will help scientists investigate the origins of life on our own planet for generations to come," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

"Almost everything we do at NASA seeks to answer questions about who we are and where we come from. NASA missions like OSIRIS-REx will improve our understanding of asteroids that could threaten Earth while giving us a glimpse into what lies beyond."

"The sample has made it back to Earth, but there is still so much science to come - science like we've never seen before."

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Comment icon #1 Posted by quiXilver 9 months ago
Absolutely in love with this project. Really impressive achievement and potentially some great info to come.

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