In an interplanetary faux pas, it appears some pieces of asteroid Vesta ended up on asteroid Bennu, according to observations from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The new result sheds light on the intricate orbital dance of asteroids and on the violent origin of Bennu, which is a “rubble pile” asteroid that coalesced from the fragments of a massive collision.
“We found six boulders ranging in size from 5 to 14 feet (about 1.5 to 4.3 meters) scattered across Bennu’s southern hemisphere and near the equator,” said Daniella DellaGiustina of the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory, University of
Asteroid Bennu, the subject of NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission, appears to be hosting some unusual souvenirs. In a case of cosmic CSI, researchers have traced the origin of some bright boulders on Bennu’s surface to a different asteroid named Vesta.
Osiris-Rex is currently in residence at Bennu, preparing for a daring sample collection operation in October. The spacecraft has already sent back a wealth of images and data from the “rubble pile” asteroid that was formed from fragments of a brutal collision.
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The boulders in question range in size from 5 to 14 feet (about 1.5 to 4.3 meters) and look noticeably different than the darker surrounding material.