The space ship OSIRIS-REx, which has been in orbit around Bennu last week, have discovered the presence of water in this primitive asteroid composed of the same molecules that give rise to life on Earth, NASA announced on Monday.
"Recently, the information from the Origins Explorer, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Regolith Security (Osiris-Rex) mission has revealed the presence of water in the clay that forms its scientific objective, the Bennu asteroid," NASA said in a statement.
This information, obtained thanks to the two spectrometers with which the probe is equipped, indicates the presence of hydroxyl groups, the molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms stick to one another.
Researchers in charge of the "suspect" mission that these hydroxyl compounds are found throughout the planetoid are said in the statement, although NASA believes their presence this would be a little bit residual,
"Since Bennu is by itself too small to feed water, the discovery shows that at some point there is the presence of this liquid in some parallel body, probably a much larger asteroid"said the US space agency.
On December 3, NASA announced that OSIRIS-REx had completed the first phase of its mission, which consisted of entering the orbit of the asteroid and from now on it would accompany Benou as its satellite to explore how they displaced planets without a certain gravitational wave.
This last mission is of great importance because the asteroid is a potential danger to the Earth because its trajectory shows that it will pass a "touch" on our planet. Some people already call it "asteroid death" and the asteroid Armageddon, but the official site of the US space agency says it will not affect our world, and that the primary interest of this unpublished mission is scientific.
Over the next twelve months, he will also work to find a suitable landing site for the asteroid to begin collecting samples that can be analyzed when the plane returns home.
"When the samples from this mission arrive on Earth, in 2023, scientists they will receive a hidden treasure of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system"said NASA mission and research department Amy Simon, quoted in the note.
At a press conference, the OSIRIS-REx chief researcher and Arizona University Professor of Planetary and Lunar Laboratory Dante Loreta explained that although Bennu was too small to have given water, the finding indicates that at some point there was liquid in the original body or "father" of Bennu, probably a bigger asteroid.
"We are talking about an asteroid that can reveal important information about the early formation of the solar system or even the beginning of life on Earth," Lauretta said.
Scientists have said that the images they have received so far have allowed them to see the rocky surface of the asteroid.
Bennu has a diameter of approximately 500 meters and is about the size of a small mountain.