OAN’s Abril Elfi
4:25 PM – Thursday, October 12, 2023
NASA shared glimpses of the rocks and dust brought back from an asteroid, showing evidence of carbon and water.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said the samples brought back a large amount of carbon. Dr. Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said that the sample was roughly 5% carbon by weight which reportedly makes it one of the highest concentrations of carbon to be studied in an asteroid.
“Far exceeding our goal of 60 grams, this is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever returned to Earth,” Nelson said. “The carbon and water molecules are exactly the kinds of material that we wanted to find. They’re crucial elements in the formation of our own planet. And they’re going to help us determine the origin of elements that could have led to life.”
The sample, recovered by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission from the 4.5 billion-year-old near-Earth asteroid, Bennu, in October 2020, landed on Earth in a capsule on September 24th in the Utah desert.
Scientists have been hard at work since then, investigating the quantity of material, more than they expected, just within the canister’s lid to conduct an early examination. The results of that research, as well as the first glimpse at the sample, were revealed on Wednesday during a live NASA broadcast from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and it was reported to be the most significant asteroid sample ever returned to Earth.
Most of the samples brought back from Bennu have not been publicly released because they’re locked inside the TAGSAM device, which researchers have to take apart methodically.
Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, said that they are optimistic about having a pretty good estimate of the entire mass of the sample within two weeks or so.
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