NASA has showcased the samples of soil from the asteroid Bennu, which were collected and delivered to Earth by the OSIRIS-REx mission. The preliminary analysis of this off-Earth material has unveiled a significant presence of carbon and signs of water.
This finding has major implications for understanding the origins of life on Earth, as carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu could have contributed to life's building blocks through impacts.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated, "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." This discovery marks a crucial step in deciphering the mysteries of our cosmic heritage and the formation of our solar system.
The OSIRIS-REx mission, which launched in 2016, arrived at Bennu in 2018 and successfully collected samples in 2020, despite encountering surface challenges. While the sample return capsule landed on Earth in September 2023, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is now en route to study another asteroid called Apophis, emphasizing the importance of continued space exploration.