After NASA, London prepares to examine 4.6 billion-year-old dark dust from Bennu asteroid | Mint
Active Stocks
Wed Feb 28 2024 13:59:03
  1. Tata Motors share price
  2. 957.10 -0.59%
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 141.45 -1.87%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,417.30 -0.23%
  1. Power Grid Corporation Of India share price
  2. 282.80 -3.32%
  1. ITC share price
  2. 408.85 -0.56%
Business News/ Science / News/  After NASA, London prepares to examine 4.6 billion-year-old dark dust from Bennu asteroid
BackBack

After NASA, London prepares to examine 4.6 billion-year-old dark dust from Bennu asteroid

Scientists will analyze the water bound up in Bennu to see if it matches the composition of Earth's oceans, as they believe water-carrying asteroids played a role in the formation of Earth's bodies of water.

A sample Asteroid Bennu is put on public display for the first time at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, on November 3, 2023. A sample collected from the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid Bennu contains abundant water and carbon, NASA revealed, offering more evidence for the theory that life on Earth was seeded from outer space. The discovery follows a seven-year-round-trip to the distant rock as part of the OSIRIS-REx mission, which dropped off its precious payload in the Utah desert last month for painstaking scientific analysis. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (AFP)Premium
A sample Asteroid Bennu is put on public display for the first time at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, on November 3, 2023. A sample collected from the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid Bennu contains abundant water and carbon, NASA revealed, offering more evidence for the theory that life on Earth was seeded from outer space. The discovery follows a seven-year-round-trip to the distant rock as part of the OSIRIS-REx mission, which dropped off its precious payload in the Utah desert last month for painstaking scientific analysis. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (AFP)

NASA's Osiris-Rex mission stopped at asteroid Bennu in 2020 and returned samples to Earth in September. Following this historic feat, a teaspoon worth of dust and granules scooped from the Bennu asteroid has arrived at the Natural History Museum in London. 

The Bennu asteroid which is thought to be 4.6 billion years old, dates back to the dawn of the solar system. A sample of rock and dust retrieved from the asteroid Bennu contains water and carbon molecules, both building blocks for life as we know it, NASA chief Bill Nelson had said in October. 

Scientists are still not sure how much was grabbed from the carbon-rich asteroid named Bennu, almost 60 million miles (97 million km) away.

The spacecraft briefly touched down on Bennu, an asteroid that has a 1-in-1,750 chance of colliding with Earth in the next 300 years, and gathered more than 60g of untouched material, the largest amount brought back from space since the Apollo program, Guardian reported. 

The Bennu asteroid contains carbon, holds water in the form of water-bearing clay minerals, according to NASA scientists

In London, a key area for research for the scientists would be to analyse hydrogen isotopes in the water bound up in Bennu to see if any of it matches that found in Earth’s oceans.

Scientists believe the reason Earth has oceans, lakes and rivers is because it was hit with water-carrying asteroids 4 to 4.5 billion years ago, making it a habitable planet.

All life on Earth meanwhile is based on carbon, which forms bonds with other elements to produce proteins and enzymes as well as the building blocks of genetic code, DNA and RNA.

The first two years of research at the Natural History Museum will focus on non-destructive tests, such as X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy to learn about Bennu’s mineral composition and structure. The largest grains in the sample are on the order of millimetres wide, while the smallest are mere dust particles, the Guardian report adds. 

Unlock a world of Benefits! From insightful newsletters to real-time stock tracking, breaking news and a personalized newsfeed – it's all here, just a click away! Login Now!

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Check all the latest action on Budget 2024 here. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Published: 29 Nov 2023, 05:17 PM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App