A NASA Spacecraft Just Found Evidence of Water on a Distant Asteroid

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A spacecraft sent by NASA is currently moving with 12 miles above the surface of a small asteroid millions of miles away from Earth. Its job is to closely exame its surface. The Spacecraft just delivered its first data batch. As part of NASA’s Origins Program, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft went close to an asteroid called Bennu. Bennu is about 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) away from the Sun. OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu on December 3. Bennu is about 1,600-foot-wide (487-meter0). The goal of OSIRIS-REx is to unveil the secrets of the solar system by studying the asteroid.



What NASA has found from this first batch of data is just amazing. Bennu once comprised liquid water — a huge surprise to scientists at NASA.

NASA said: “Which brings us to something big… We found water on Bennu! Two of my spectrometers – OVIRS and OTES – detected the chemical fingerprints of water bound up in hydrated clay minerals over a large part of the asteroid’s surface.

In a press release today, researchers declared that OSIRIS-REx has discovered proof of hydrated minerals on the surface of Bennu using its on-board tools. 

Amy Simon, the scientist overseeing OSIRIS-REx’s spectral analysis, said: “To get hydrated minerals in the first place, to get clays, you have to have water interacting with regular minerals. This is a great surprise.”

Uncovering proof of water is a huge deal, even on the surface of a small asteroid millions of miles away.
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