Evidence of water found on asteroid Bennu

Prelims level : Space Technology Mains level : GS – III
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  • Scientists have discovered evidence of abundant water-bearing minerals on the surface of the near-earth asteroid Bennu.
  • Data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that is currently orbiting the asteroid confirm presence of aqueously altered, hydrated minerals on its surface. Scientists say similar objects may have seeded the earth with water and organic materials.

Asteroid Bennu:

  • So, analysis of returned sample from it could help to reveal key insights about early solar system and the origin of life on Earth.
  • It can strike earth and cause massive destruction. According to experts, it has a only a one in 2,700 chances of hitting.
  • This event will occur in year 2135

OSIRIS-REx Mission:

  • Primary aim of the mission is to study asteroid 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid.
  • NASA’s project
  • OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
  • OSIRIS-Rex will travel for two years on a journey to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid about the size of a small mountain
  • It will return with dirt samples from Bennu to Earth
  • NASA scientists feel that the Bennu asteroid hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth
  • The spacecraft is scheduled to reach small, roundish asteroid in 2018 and return to Earth after collecting some of its gravels by 2023. It was launched in 2016.
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