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NASA spacecraft gets ready for the historic moment to grab a sample from asteroid Bennu's surface on October 20. Pinterest

As a NASA spacecraft gets ready for the historic moment to grab a sample from asteroid Bennu’s surface on October 20, this pristine remnant from the early days of our solar system offers more than what meets the eye.

NASA’s first mission to return a sample from an ancient asteroid — the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-Rex — is a seven-year long voyage set to conclude upon the delivery to Earth of at least 60 grams and, possibly, up to almost 2 kgs of sample.


It promises to be the largest amount of extraterrestrial material brought back from space since the Apollo era.

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Scientists on the mission are hopeful that hydrated minerals and organic material will likely be present in the collected sample, finally revealing some signs of life in the alien world.

Bennu is classified as a B-type asteroid, which means it contains a lot of carbon in and along with its various minerals, NASA said in a statement.

Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid that hasn’t undergone drastic, composition-altering change, meaning that on and below its deeper-than-pitch-black surface are chemicals and rocks from the birth of the solar system. Bennu has been (mostly) undisturbed for billions of years.


All Earth life forms are based on chains of carbon atoms bonded with oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and other elements. Unsplash

Not only is it conveniently close and carbonaceous, it is also so primitive that scientists calculated it formed in the first 10 million years of our solar system’s history – over 4.5 billion years ago.

Is Bennu space trash or scientific treasure?

While “rubble pile” sounds like an insult, it’s actually a real astronomy classification.

“Rubble-pile asteroids like Bennu are celestial bodies made from lots of pieces of rocky debris that gravity compressed together,” according to NASA.

Bennu is a primordial artifact preserved in the vacuum of space, orbiting among planets and moons and asteroids and comets. Because it is so old, Bennu could be made of material containing molecules that were present when life first formed on Earth.

All Earth life forms are based on chains of carbon atoms bonded with oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and other elements. However, organic material like the kind scientists hope to find in a sample from Bennu doesn’t necessarily always come from biology.

Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: 2022 तक पूरा होगा यूएई में बन रहे सबसे पहले हिन्दू मंदिर का निर्माण

“It would, though, further scientists’ search to uncover the role asteroids rich in organics played in catalyzing life on Earth,” the US space agency noted.

OSIRIS-REx will depart Bennu in 2021 and deliver the sample to Earth on September 24, 2023.

“Extraterrestrial jewellery sounds great, and Bennu is likely to be rich in platinum and gold compared to the average crust on Earth,” NASA said.


Early Earth-based observations of the asteroid suggested it had a smooth surface with a regolith (the top layer of loose, unconsolidated material) composed of particles less than an inch (a couple of centimeters) large – at most. (Representational Image). Unsplash

Closely studying this asteroid will give answers to questions about whether asteroid mining during deep-space exploration and travel is feasible.

Although rare metals attract the most attention, water is likely to be the most important resource in Bennu.

Also Read: Here Are the Solutions to Your Back Problems

Given the high cost of transporting material into space, if astronauts can extract water from an asteroid for life support and fuel, the cosmic beyond is closer than ever to being human-accessible.

Early Earth-based observations of the asteroid suggested it had a smooth surface with a regolith (the top layer of loose, unconsolidated material) composed of particles less than an inch (a couple of centimeters) large – at most.

Bennu was named in 2013 by a nine-year-old boy from North Carolina who won the Name that Asteroid! competition, a collaboration between the mission, the Planetary Society, and the LINEAR asteroid survey that discovered Bennu. (IANS)

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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

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Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

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