Surprise – Again! Asteroid Bennu Reveals its Surface is Like a Plastic Ball Pit
Scientists have discovered something astonishing after studying data from NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's sample collection from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020
the spacecraft would have sunk into Bennu if it had not fired its thrusters to back away as soon as it grabbed rock and dust from the asteroid's surface
Bennu's shell is made up of particles that are so loosely packed and barely adhered to one another that if a human were to step onto it
they would experience very little resistance, similar to stepping into a pit of plastic balls, which are common play locations for children.
According to Kevin Walsh, a member of the OSIRIS-REx science team from the San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute,
"If Bennu was entirely packed, it would imply virtually solid rock, but we found a lot of vacuum area in the surface."
The most recent information regarding Bennu's surface was released on July 7 in two papers written by Walsh and Dante Lauretta
the lead investigator of OSIRIS-REx, who is headquartered at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
As Bennu has continuously proven unpredictable, these findings contribute to the mystery that has kept scientists on the edge of their seats throughout the OSIRIS-REx mission.
When NASA's spacecraft reached Bennu in December 2018, the asteroid gave its first surprise
Instead of the smooth, sandy beach they had anticipated based on views from Earth- and space-based telescopes, the OSIRIS-REx team discovered a surface scattered with pebbles.
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