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NASA’s Bennu asteroid mission was so successful it began to leak2 min read

October 26, 2020 2 min read


NASA’s Bennu asteroid mission was so successful it began to leak2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

All Things Science

Have you ever wondered about how earth was made and what happened here on its first day? That’s what many scientists are thinking about. We have the Big Bang Theory but there is so much we still don’t know. But we might be getting warmer. All thanks to the asteroid Bennu!

Sourced from EarthSky

NASA discovered the 4.5 billion years old asteroid Bennu in 1999. This asteroid is composed of the same material that was there in space when earth was born. So, this asteroid could reveal the truth of our origin to us! No wonder that NASA is so interested in Bennu and bringing parts of it to earth to study.

One such attempt is the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft! The spacecraft has been collecting sample from the asteroid for scientists to study.

But the mission became a little too successful when the spacecraft began to pick up large portions of the sample blocking the main flap.

The mission was designed to collect at least 60 grams of the sample, but OSIRIS-REx has collected 400 grams! So much material has been collected that the flap designed to keep the sample inside is now jammed. Last week, NASA reported that small particles of the collected sample are now leaking from the opening created by the pressure of large rocks.

Sourced from NASA

The team at NASA is now trying to slow down the process of sample collection to reduce the loss of sample in the hope that when OSIRIS-REx returns to Earth in 2023, it carries with it enough sample to last decades of research.

Despite Bennu’s hospitality in keeping his friend from Earth a little too fed, the latter is healthy.

Although we may have to move more quickly to stow the sample, it’s not a bad problem to have. We are so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historic moment,
said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

Sourced from CNN.

We cannot wait to see what Bennu brings back! What about you?

And while you are waiting,
Think with Owliver:
1. Where does the name Bennu come from?

2. How are celestial bodies named? Find some of the wackiest names!

Leave your responses in the comments below!

(All Things Science is a weekly column that features stories around science and astronomy)