Unleashing Curiosity, Igniting Discovery - The Science Fusion

ON THE morning of 24 September 2023, Dante Lauretta woke up early, his pulse racing. For 20 years, he had been engaged on a NASA area mission that aimed to scoop up a pattern of an asteroid and return it to Earth. Now, it was time for the pattern capsule to land. If something went flawed, it might find yourself smashed to smithereens on the desert flooring, as flat – and as ineffective to science – as a pancake.

Fortunately, the touchdown was profitable. And since that day, researchers led by Lauretta, a planetary scientist on the College of Arizona, have been busily inspecting crumbly, jet-black materials from the asteroid Bennu. Their mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, is one in all a number of comparable efforts in what arguably provides as much as a golden age of asteroid science. We now have a minimum of three pristine samples introduced again from asteroids and there are thrilling plans afoot to go to others (see “Encounters with asteroids”, beneath).

Lauretta has written a e book in regards to the OSIRIS-REx mission known as The Asteroid Hunter. Right here, he tells New Scientist about why asteroid samples are necessary, what his group has found to this point and his jaw-dropping speculation that Bennu may be a fraction of a misplaced ocean world, one which can have had heat, watery circumstances that would have made it an incubator for the constructing blocks of life.

Joshua Howgego: You watched from a helicopter because the OSIRIS-REx samples landed. How tense was it?

Dante Lauretta: I acquired up at 1.30 that morning as a result of we had…

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