NASA compares the surface of asteroid Bennu… to a pool of plastic balls

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The surface of asteroid Bennu is so unstable like a pool of plastic balls. NASA made the comparison after analyzing larger data collected by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

If the ship hadn’t fired its thrusters after collecting dust and rock samples from Bennu, it was sinking.

It is part of the unpredictability of this asteroid, discovered from Socorro (New Mexico) in 1999, thanks to the Linear program.

According to the aerospace agency, the particles that make up Bennu’s exterior are so loose and loosely bound together, that if a person stepped on it they would feel very little resistance.

As if entering a pool of plastic balls.

The main characteristics of the asteroid Bennu, after NASA research

Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid, with about 500 meters in diameter and a density of 1190 kilograms per cubic meter.

In 2016, POT sent the OSIRIS-REx space probe to study it, collecting samples in 2020. The spacecraft is expected to arrive at our planet in 2023.

Kevin Walsh, a member of the OSIRIS-REx science team at the Southwest Research Institute, spoke in the NASA statement about the asteroid’s surface.

“If Bennu were completely filled, that would imply that it would be almost solid rock, but we found a lot of empty space on the surface.” According to Walsh and his companions, the asteroid was hurling rock particles into space.

Dante Lauretta, a team investigator, agrees with him. “Our expectations about the surface of the asteroid were completely wrong,” he stressed. After seeing close-up images of Bennu’s surface, Lauretta noted that it was “a huge wall of debris coming out of the sample site.”

The future of asteroid studies

Information collected by NASA about Bennu will help scientists better interpret remote observations of other asteroids. For future missions, what was discovered in this mission will be key.

The results of the study on Bennu’s surface were published in the journals Science and Science Advances.

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