Could the key to life on Earth be contained within a teaspoon of black asteroid dust that has arrived in London? Scientists at the Natural History Museum hope they can uncover the answer .
A Bit of Dust will be displayed at London’s Natural History Museum. hang on! Before you click away, this isn’t just any old garbage.
This dust is a sample of an asteroid that contains both clues about the origin of life on Earth and the possibility of ending it. Are you getting any attention now?
Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid It also revolves around the sun. It travels about 120 million kilometers from us, but that hasn’t stopped NASA space missions from making contact with it.
After more than seven years on the road, the OSIRIS-REx mission was able to collect samples from Bennu and return to Earth, landing in Utah. Scientists believe the asteroid sample could be an “untouched time capsule from the beginning of the solar system” and could provide clues to understanding the formation of Earth and the origin of life.
101955 Bennu – its official name – was named after it. ancient egyptians Sun god Ra, a mythical bird associated with creation and rebirth. The Egyptian Bennu is thought to be the source of inspiration for the Phoenix myth.
Bennu is thought to have formed during the initial creation of the Milky Way solar system 4.56 billion years ago. As the sun formed, a chain reaction of chemical and molecule production also began, forming a circular disk around the sun.
In this protoplanetary disk, materials such as water and iron formed in larger clumps and eventually came together to form planets. Scientists believe that Bennu may be an example of an early stage mass before the formation of planets in our solar system.
The excitement about studying samples from Earth’s potential constituents is also evident in the comments of British meteorite researcher Dr. Ashley King. natural history museum. “It’s like the rest of the building blocks of the solar system,” King explains.
“If you think about how the Earth was formed, all of its components are also trapped inside Bennu. So we want to unravel the story of Bennu and learn about the origins of the solar system and the history of the Earth. “King continued.
Typically, scientists can only study meteorites, asteroids that fall to Earth and are irreversibly changed by contact with Earth’s atmosphere. Having the opportunity to study sampled asteroids in space means conditions are more pristine for better conclusions.
“We think this sample was taken from the type of asteroid that is thought to play a role in bringing water to Earth,” says Natural History Museum researcher Dr. Helena Bates. Bates continued, “When Earth formed, it was a very dry environment, and we believe that at some point in Earth’s subsequent evolution, water was supplied from an extraterrestrial source. .” We think Bennu may be representative of an asteroid that provided water to Earth. ”
But water isn’t the only thing they’re looking for. The search continues for organic components – carbon-containing molecules – that could mark the beginning of life itself on Earth.
Bennu gives with one hand and takes with the other. This asteroid is also considered one of the most dangerous asteroids in the entire solar system.
Bennu lies in an orbital pattern around the sun that is very similar to Earth’s orbit. That means there will be multiple moments in the future when scientists will: predicted Maybe we will come into contact with our planet.
The current best estimate of the potential impact is a direct hit between 2175 and 2300, with a probability of 0.037%.
That’s not a very likely event. But if that were to happen, the consequences would be devastating. The impact produced more than 1,200 megatons of TNT, more than 20 times the yield of the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested.