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NASA Analysis of Asteroid Bennu Sample Suggests Evidence of Life on an Extinct Ocean Planet

An intriguing possibility has been revealed by the recent study of samples from the asteroid Bennu that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission brought back to Earth.

These materials could be from a “ancient ocean world,” which could have laid the foundation for life as we know it, according to scientists.

Bennu, an asteroid, has drawn the attention of scientists who are trying to learn more about the early solar system and the beginnings of life on Earth.

The preliminary results from the Bennu samples have given rise to a novel idea that has the potential to completely rewrite our knowledge of the universe and the fundamental components of life.

Significant discoveries were made in October based on early findings from the study of the asteroid samples. Bennu was found to have significant concentrations of carbon and water, two ingredients essential to the origin of life.

This discovery prompted scientists to hypothesise that asteroids like as Bennu may have played a significant role in bringing the necessary elements for life to Earth.

Bennu, an asteroid, originated in an ancient ocean. Researchers at the University of Arizona have expanded on this theory by speculating that Bennu was formerly a component of a planet with plenty of water that existed billions of years ago.

Some of the dark rocks of Bennu have a thin, bright crust covering them, providing evidence for this theory.

The minerals in this crust are quite similar to those on Enceladus, the moon of Saturn, which is well-known for having an ocean of salty liquid water covering it all behind an icy shell.

Hailed as a huge success, OSIRIS-REx is headed by University of Arizona planetary science professor Dante Lauretta, the mission’s principal investigator.

Almost twice as many asteroid samples were returned by the mission than were expected (60 grammes), offering an unparalleled chance for scientific analysis.

Bennu’s parent asteroid

Though it is currently based on unpublished data, Lauretta’s theory contends that a rare phosphate substance rich in calcium and magnesium makes up the bright crust on Bennu’s rocks.

This material is identical to that erupting from Enceladus’s surface vents, suggesting that activities akin to these may have taken place on Bennu’s parent body billions of years ago.

Similarities in the mineralogy of Bennu and Enceladus, as highlighted by University of Washington postdoctoral researcher Fabian Klenner, lend credence to this most recent idea.

“It is true that the mineralogy of Bennu and what has been discovered on Enceladus are similar,” Klenner stated to New Scientist.

These materials are important because, when rock is forced into a seafloor and interacts with water on Earth, exothermic reactions occur.

This procedure indicates conditions that might support life in addition to the existence of water.

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