Potentially hazardous asteroid Bennu stumps scientists with its odd makeup

Tasked with finding clues about origins of life on Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft scooped up pieces of a rugged, rubble-pile asteroid named Bennu in late 2020 and delivered them to Earth about two months ago. On Monday (Dec. 11), scientists got their first detailed description of some of that extraterrestrial collection.

“We definitely have hydrated, organic-rich remnants from the early solar system, which is exactly what we were hoping when we first conceived this mission almost 20 years ago,” Dante Lauretta, the mission’s principal investigator, said at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference being held this week in California and online. “I fully expect the cosmochemistry community is going to go to town on this.”