On the Morning of the 3. December, he woke up, grinning, Dante Lauretta, and have since found a date in his calendar that he had registered ten years ago. The planet researchers working at the University of Arizona and is the chief scientist of the Nasa probe, “Osiris Rex”. And the is on 3. December arrived at your destination, the asteroid “Bennu”.

Lauretta says of the approximately 500-meters-in-heaven body as a “fascinating little world”. At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington, he has presented now, together with colleagues first photos and measurements from there.


Two spectrometers on Board of the “Osiris Rex”, the instruments “Ovirs and Otes” have delivered, therefore, evidence that clay minerals on the entire surface of the asteroid in contact with water.

minimal gravity

The celestial body itself is, however, according to the researchers, too small to have ever have liquid water – the gravity on Bennu is only a hundred thousandth as strong as on the earth. The Rock has come in the past, in contact with water, there is no doubt according to the presented measurements.

How does this fit together?

Bennu says Lauretta, is likely to be part of a larger celestial body. There, it was probably ice and is eventually melted. The rock material had come in contact with the water. If there is a catastrophic impact of a major celestial body has been destroyed then, so about a billion years ago.

From the Remnants is later the Bennu, since then, as a kind of flying pile of rocks draws its orbit in the solar system. A pile of rocks, mind you, with a total mass of more than 60 million tons. The Asteroid crosses the earth’s orbit and our planet could be in the distant future, too, once dangerous.

So at least there is a low probability of a collision in the year 2135. Also for the assessment of this risk, the measurements of the “Osiris-Rex is intended to serve”. The go now.

search for organic links, for instance,

the aim is to find, for example, to organic Compounds. Which in certain meteorites, fallen from the belt of asteroids coming to the earth. These so-called carbonaceous Chondrites come from a particular sub-class of asteroids, including Bennu.

An important intermediate destination is already managed, says Lauretta: “Very early in the course of the Mission, we know that Bennu has the Material we want to return.” With a kind of cosmic vacuum cleaner, the probe has to pick up fine rock crumbs from the surface of the Asteroid and, in 2023, to the earth. The amount should be somewhere between 60 and 2000 grams.

The Collection, however, might be more difficult than planned: Previous radar measurements with radio telescopes on earth had suggested that there is a larger boulder on Bennus the South pole, about ten feet tall. The Rest of the surface seemed to be dusty.

In reality, the Rock does, however, tend to 50 meters. And more chunks of Ten-Meter class, there are hundreds. “The landscape is a little rougher than we had thought,” says Lauretta. The Sample is therefore complicated and the Team needs to pick a spot free of boulders. You want to take now more than a year.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.