April 19, 2024

Washington (AFP) – A small stone for man, an enormous discovery for humanity: In a comfortable wing of a museum in Washington on Friday, cameras and telephones have been educated on a tiny pattern of the asteroid Bennu, which ought to present a greater understanding of the way it shaped of life on earth.

Printed on: April 11, 2023 – 4:45 p.m

4 minutes

On show to the general public for the primary time on Friday on the prestigious Smithsonian Establishment’s Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past, the small, gravel-sized fragment of the most important asteroid pattern ever collected is simply seen in its small capsule.

Guests don’t fail to carry up their cell telephones for a selfie subsequent to the small black rock or to snap a photograph for the household, like Jenn Mann, who traveled from neighboring Virginia to “lastly” see a bit of the asteroid together with her grandson the earth.

“I used to be afraid it could simply be a speck of mud, however it’s truly a lot greater than I assumed,” laughs the 64-year-old laptop scientist.

“I used to be ten years previous when man first walked on the moon, and I believe everybody of my era could be very hooked up to all of that,” she admits, earlier than taking a photograph for her little woman. “You’ll be able to’t think about how a lot pleasure there was again then.”

The pattern is a part of a NASA mission to find out whether or not asteroids truly dropped at Earth the weather that allowed life to type, reminiscent of carbon and water.

“A whole lot of work”

This mission, referred to as Osiris-Rex, took this pattern in 2020 from Bennu, a 500-meter-diameter asteroid that was then situated greater than 300 million kilometers from Earth.


The capsule with the valuable cargo efficiently returned to Earth in September and landed within the American desert. Since then, analyzes have continued at NASA’s Johnson House Heart in Houston.

Though she labored with the scientific crew on this undertaking, Nayi Castro, like the opposite guests, is seeing a fraction of the pattern together with her personal eyes for the primary time. “It’s indescribable,” she stated, proudly carrying the NASA emblem on her T-shirt.

“It’s nice to see this pattern as a result of it took numerous work to deliver it again,” says the 36-year-old, all the time smiling, who’s chargeable for operating the mission. “I can’t wait to see it with my household and associates.”

The top of NASA can be personally current on this event.

“We now know that this asteroid accommodates water crystals and carbon, two of the weather that type the origin of life,” says Invoice Nelson fortunately, shortly earlier than the curtain rises.

This new house journey “is a part of our quest to know, to know who we’re, what we’re, the place we’re, within the immensity of this cosmos,” he provides in a solemn tone to journalists and house fanatics desperate to get out their cameras to take a picture of the pattern.

“A dream turns into true”

For Tim McCoy, curator on the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past, this fascination amongst guests and specialists is regular and calls this discovery a “watershed second.”

For him, “that is the start” of a protracted strategy of “attempting to know our distinctive planet.”

“Our planet has properties that we now have not discovered on every other planet within the photo voltaic system or elsewhere: continents, oceans, life,” he enthuses to journalists.

“That is one thing I’ve dreamed of for 20 years and it’s changing into a actuality at this time, however it’s simply step one,” he admits with emotion.

The capsule opening course of is definitely not but full. Because of the abundance of fabric discovered exterior the gathering mechanism itself, the primary pattern has not but been opened.

The fabric already recovered was entrusted to a speedy evaluation crew to get a primary concept of ​​the composition of Bennu.