Discover the cosmos!
Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is
featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
Gravel Ejected from Asteroid Bennu
Why does asteroid Bennu eject gravel into space?
No one is sure.
featured two-image composite shows an ejection event that occurred in early 2019,
with sun-reflecting ejecta seen on the right.
Data and simulations show
that large gravel typically falls right back to the rotating 500-meter asteroid,
while smaller rocks skip around the surface,
and the smallest rocks completely escape the low gravity of the Earth approaching, diamond-shaped asteroid.
If all goes well, this sample will then be returned to Earth for a
detailed analysis during 2023.
Bennu was chosen as the destination for
OSIRIS-REx in part because its surface shows potential to reveal
organic compounds from the
early days of
our Solar System, compounds that could have been the building blocks for
life on Earth.
How will humanity first discover extraterrestrial life?
Tomorrow’s picture: cycle 25
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman
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& Michigan Tech. U.