NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe recently made a brief landing on the surface of the asteroid Bennu and collected a pile of samples that will be sent back to Earth for research. After orbiting the asteroid for several years, NASA has now released new data collected by the OSIRIS-REx probe to learn more about the composition of the asteroid Bennu.
Researchers from the University of Colorado have published findings based on data captured by the spacecraft in orbit for two years that suggest the asteroid is likely to be hollow. Daniel Scheeres of the Department of Space Engineering Science at the University of Colorado said it appears the hole in the center of the asteroid can accommodate several football stadiums.
Since the asteroid’s core appears to be weaker than the outside, the long-term survival of the asteroid may be threatened. Scheeres said the entire asteroid could fly away in a million years or less. By combining data recorded by OSIRIS-REx, scientists were able to create an asteroid’s heavy effort, suggesting that the assumption that its interior was solid and rocky was wrong.
The team believes the asteroid’s rotation may have caused the internal hollow. As time goes on, Bennu spins faster and faster, and they think it’s in the process of being turned into pieces. Because of the low density of the core, the entire asteroid is more likely to break apart during rotation. Now that measurements of the asteroid’s gravitational field have been completed, the team of scientists has completed the OSIRIS-REx mission.
The results of their work contributed to the plan to analyze the samples, which will be sent back to Earth by the probe. Under the current plan, scientists will analyze the samples to determine the cohesion between the grains, a key physical feature that affects the mass distribution observed in the study.