NASA reveals 'incredible' findings from 'dangerous' asteroid that could explain how life on Earth started
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Featured Image Credit: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold. CoreyFord/Getty Images.
NASA has discovered a 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid Bennu could contain 'the building blocks for life'.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft managed to grab some samples of the rock and have brought them back to us.
Scientists have been carefully studying the sediments and have made some very interesting discoveries.
They've already found that the samples contain carbon and water, which NASA says 'could indicate the building blocks of life on Earth may be found in the rock'.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement: “The OSIRIS-REx sample is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever delivered to Earth and will help scientists investigate the origins of life on our own planet for generations to come."
Mr Nelson added the sample could also indicate what asteroids threaten earth.
“Almost everything we do at NASA seeks to answer questions about who we are and where we come from. NASA missions like OSIRIS-REx will improve our understanding of asteroids that could threaten Earth while giving us a glimpse into what lies beyond," he said.
"The sample has made it back to Earth, but there is still so much science to come - science like we’ve never seen before."
The OSIRIS-REx mission collected rock and dust from Bennu in 2020, and a capsule containing the precious sample landed on earth a little over two weeks ago.
It's now being analysed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Bennu has been described as 'the world’s most hazardous asteroid’ as it has the highest score on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale.
In a little less than 160 years, it has a chance of hitting Earth, according to the BBC.
According to NASA, secrets about this rock could be seen in the next few decades.
Director of NASA's planetary science division, Lori Glaze, said at NASA's Johnson Space Center event yesterday (Wednesday, 11 October): "As we start to look at asteroids that are potentially hazardous, one of the things we really want to know is, is it a dense monolithic rock, or is it just this loose collection of debris.
"We have actually learned an incredible amount from Bennu that is going to help us in defending out planet in the future."
Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA Johnson said the agency has built new clean rooms for the mission to ensure the rocks are kept in 'pristine' condition.
“We’ve had scientists and engineers working side-by-side for years to develop specialized gloveboxes and tools to keep the asteroid material pristine and to curate the samples so researchers now and decades from now can study this precious gift from the cosmos," she added.
Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucso, said that the rock could help us get one step closer to understanding the mystery of the cosmos.
"These discoveries, made possible through years of dedicated collaboration and cutting-edge science, propel us on a journey to understand not only our celestial neighborhood but also the potential for life’s beginnings," she said.