The NASA model of the Asteroid Bennu has carbon and water

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has returned the largest sample of carbon-rich planetary material ever sent to Earth

The NASA model of the Asteroid Bennu has carbon and water
A view of the outside of the OSIRIS-REx sample collector. Sample material from asteroid Bennu can be seen on the middle right. Scientists have found evidence of both carbon and water in initial analysis of this material. The bulk of the sample is located inside. Photo: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has returned the largest sample of carbon-rich planetary material ever sent to Earth, revealing a wealth of information about the origins of our solar system and the possible origins of life under the light

Preliminary analysis of a sample from the 4.5-billion-year-old dwarf planet Bennu shows evidence of abundant carbon and water, which together could indicate the discovery of life on Earth is in the rock

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, "The OSIRIS-REx prototype is a gift to the universe. "It will help scientists search for the origins of life on our own planet for generations to come.

The golf ball-sized sample was collected on October 20, 2020, and returned to Earth on September 24, 2023. Scientists have already begun analyzing the sample and are excited about the findings so far .

"We are opening a time capsule that provides deep insights into the origins of our solar system," said OSIRIS-REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta "Carbon-rich materials and clay minerals rich in water are just the tip of the universe's iceberg ."

Scientists will study the sample in the coming years, hoping to uncover many new things about the early solar system and the possibility of life beyond Earth

In addition to its scientific discoveries, the OSIRIS-REx mission was also a technological breakthrough. The spacecraft successfully reached Bennu, collected samples, and returned safely to Earth. The mission demonstrates NASA’s ability to explore distant worlds and return valuable samples for study.

The OSIRIS-REx mission is a testament to NASA's commitment to scientific discovery and exploration. The mission's findings will help us to better understand our place in the universe and the potential for life beyond Earth.