The NASA OSIRIS-REx probe has discovered traces of water in minerals on the surface of the asteroid Bennu. The potentially most dangerous celestial body of the Solar System. And already dubbed “asteroid of the Apocalypse”.
The fact that the OSIRIS-REx probe discovered traces of water, on the surface of the asteroid Bennu, makes it possible to affirm that it resembles in this respect other asteroids. And comets already studied, reports the official website of the NASA, in charge of the space program.
“The presence of hydrated minerals on the surface of the asteroid confirms that Bennu. A vestige of early solar system times, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission. To study the composition of volatile and organic matter in space. (…) When all the samples arrive on Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information on the history. And evolution of our Solar System,” says Amy Simon, a researcher at NASA.
OSIRIS-REx has travelled more than two years to get closer to Bennu. Which revolves around the Sun at a speed of 100,000 km/h. And is currently 124 million kilometres from the Earth. The small probe then braked to stabilize from seven kilometres of the asteroid.
The latter is not quite spherical, it is wider than long. Its shape does not have the regular roundness of a planet. It is 493 meters in diameter, that is to say it is of the same order of magnitude as the skyscraper One World Trade Center in New York.
Never has a camera approached such a small asteroid. For comparison, the Japanese are currently conducting a similar mission. With the probe Hayabusa2, on Ryugu, an asteroid six times bigger than Bennu. In 2010, the Hayabusa probe reported microscopic grains from the celestial body Itokawa.
End of the World
In 2023, OSIRIS-REx will return to Earth – with NASA on board, the largest mass of space samples since the astronauts returned from the moon half a century earlier.
The asteroid, with its 493 meters in diameter and 3.4 billion tons is considered capable of causing the end of the world. In the event of an impact with the Earth, it would release an energy equivalent to 1,450 megatonnes of TNT, which is three times more than all the nuclear bombs that have exploded in history. According to scientists’ calculations, Bennu would have a chance on 2,700 of touching the Earth on September 21, 2135.