Asteroid Samples Were Once Part of a Wetter World

This is a microscope image of a dark Bennu particle, about a millimeter long, with a crust of bright phosphate. To the right is a smaller fragment that broke off. The presence of phosphate hints that Bennu may have once been part of an ocean world. Image Credit: Lauretta & Connolly et al. (2024) Meteoritics & Planetary Science

Nine months have passed since NASA’s OSIRIS-REx returned its samples of asteroid Bennu to Earth. The samples are some of the Solar System’s primordial, pristine materials. They’ve made their way into scientists’ hands, and their work is uncovering some surprises.

Some of the material in the samples indicates that Bennu had a watery past.

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