• AutoTL;DRB
    36 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:

    Following carefully choreographed procedures to prevent the contamination of the asteroid dust and rocks from life on Earth, the samples were transferred to a clean room at Johnson Space Center in Houston two weeks ago.

    While the effort to determine the overall mass is ongoing, Lauretta said early estimates are that the asteroid capture mission collected about 250 grams of pebbles and dust from the surface of Bennu.

    After the material is cataloged, it will be loaned out in small quantities to 230 scientists across 35 countries who are members of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-Rex mission team.

    The big deal is that Bennu, an asteroid in a near-Earth orbit that is about one-half kilometer across, is believed to be a time capsule for the types of rocks and chemicals that existed when the planets formed in our Solar System more than 4 billion years ago.

    By studying Bennu, scientists are looking back to that primordial era when Earth began transitioning from an extremely hot world with a hellish surface environment into something more like a mud ball.

    In a preliminary analysis of some of the dust, Lauretta said scientists hit the jackpot with a sample that is nearly 5 percent carbon by mass and has abundant water in the form of hydrated clay minerals.

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