What is asteroid Bennu, and why is NASA studying it?

  Oct 31, 2020

What is asteroid Bennu, and why is NASA studying it?

Q. Why is this in news ?

A.  Recently NASA’s OSIRIS-REx — Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer — spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.

The asteroid was named after an Egyptian deity by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina in 2013 who won NASA’s “Name that Asteroid” competition. The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.

Q. What is an asteroid?

Q. What is the OSIRIS-REx mission?

Q. Why are scientists studying asteroid Bennu?

Q. How do chemicals and rocks offer scientists clues about the solar system?

Q. What do we know about the asteroid so far?

There is a slight possibility that Bennu, which is classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO), might strike the Earth in the next century, between the years 2175 and 2199. NEOs are comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits which allows them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.