[Answered] “Many scientists also believe that when rocks such as Bennu crashed into the earth, they delivered the compounds required for the formation of life.” How might the study of asteroids like Bennu reshape our understanding of the origins of life on Earth?

Introduction: What is Bennu asteroid?

Body: How this asteroid helps in understanding origin of life on Earth?

Conclusion: Way forward

Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid that has gained significant attention due to its potential impact hazard and its scientific importance. Bennu is believed to be a fragment of a larger asteroid that broke apart in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It then migrated toward Earth’s vicinity, becoming a near-Earth asteroid. Bennu gained prominence when NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx mission in 2016 to study this asteroid up close.

How can this asteroid reshape our understanding of the origins of life on Earth?

  • Composition made of organic compounds: Asteroids like Bennu, may have brought organic chemicals to Earth. The fundamental components of life as we know it are these organic substances, such as amino acids and nucleotides. It would be strongly supported by evidence if it can be proven that these substances were truly transported by asteroids, increasing the likelihood that life might have originated in space.
  • Solar system timeline: Bennu is thought to be about 4.5 billion years old and has an interior that is between 20 and 40 percent space. Bennu is thought to have formed within the first 10 million years of the solar system’s creation. This can help scientists refine our understanding of when key ingredients for life arrived on our planet, potentially narrowing down the timeline for the emergence of life.
  • Unique features: Asteroid is a B-type asteroid, which indicates that it has a high carbon and mineral content. When compared to a planet like Venus, which reflects around 65% of the light, and Earth 30%, the asteroid only reflects about four percent of the light that strikes it due to its high carbon content.
  • Trace of Water: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe found hydrogen and oxygen molecules embedded on Bennu’s rocky surface offering some clues to the origins of life on the earth

Conclusion:

Bennu’s study not only informs us about the early solar system’s composition but also provides essential data for assessing and mitigating potential asteroid impact threats to our planet. The OSIRIS-REx mission marks a significant step in our exploration of these celestial objects and their role in the evolution of our solar system.

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