According to the US space agency NASA, a sample of rubble from the asteroid Bennu that was dropped to Earth around three weeks ago contains traces of water and carbon. This was shown by initial examinations of the sample, which, however, still need to be deepened with many further analyses, NASA announced at a press conference.
It is the first sample of an asteroid successfully brought to Earth in the history of the US space agency - and the largest such sample ever taken.
The sample was dropped in a capsule from NASA's Osiris-Rex probe over the desert of the US state of Utah in September. From there, the capsule was then taken to NASA laboratories in the US state of Texas - where around 200 scientists are now working on the material using 60 different examination methods. Around three years ago, “Osiris-Rex” collected the sample from the celestial body using a complicated maneuver.
The sample consists of dust and pieces of rubble of various sizes and weighs a total of around 250 grams, about as much as a packet of butter, NASA said. Contrary to expectations, the NASA scientists also found additional material from the asteroid Bennu on and on the capsule, which is why the investigation initially took longer than planned.