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Bennu and Ryugu originated from same asteroid

Date: 04 June 2020 Tags: Space


A new study suggests that asteroids Ryugu and Bennu came from the same region of the asteroid belt as a result of a major collision, and may have even broken off from the same parent body.



 The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter contains millions of oddly shaped rocky bodies, and some of them make their way closer to Earth.



  • The study traces the origin of these two asteroids with the aim of getting a better picture of our own origin story and how life started here on Earth.

  • Asteroid Bennu is a near-Earth Object with a diameter of approximately 500 meters (which is about 3/10 of a mile). It orbits around the Sun every 436.6 days and comes within a close distance of 0.002 AU from Earth every six years.

  • The asteroid was discovered in September 1999 and is currently the target of NASA's OSIRIS-REX mission, which will return a sample of the asteroid to Earth by the year 2023.

  • Asteroid Ryugu was discovered in May 1999, measuring around 900 meters in diameter. The potentially hazardous asteroid is on an elliptical orbit around the Sun every 16 months.

  • Ryugu is the target of another asteroid sample mission. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down on the asteroid on February 21, 2019, and is on its way back with a sample of Ryugu.

  • The team behind the new study designed numerical simulations of large asteroid collisions that would have taken place in the asteroid belt.

  • The simulations resulted in fragments that broke off from a larger parent body, re-accumulated, and formed a different rocky body with a spinning-top shape similar to Bennu's and Ryugu's.

  • The asteroids, however, do differ on one thing. Bennu and Ryugu have different hydration levels, which the researchers attribute to two possible scenarios.

  • Either the asteroids broke off from two different parent bodies, and therefore each reflects the hydration level of the larger rock, or they came from the same parent body but experienced different evolutions.

  • One leading theory of how life began on Earth is that it was transported here by way of rocky asteroids that crash-landed on our planet during its early history.

  • Therefore, learning more about the origins of these rocky bodies could answer one of life's burning questions.

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