Spacecraft sample collection and subsurface excavation of asteroid (101955) Bennu

Lauretta, D. S.; Adam, C. D.; Allen, A. J.; Ballouz, R.-L.; Barnouin, O. S.; Becker, K. J.; Becker, T.; Bennett, C. A.; Bierhaus, E. B.; Bos, B. J.; Burns, R. D.; Campins, H.; Cho, Y.; Christensen, P. R.; Church, E. C. A.; Clark, B. E.; Connolly Jr., H. C.; Daly, M. G.; Della Giustina, D. N.; Drouet d’Aubigny, C. Y.; Emery, J. P.; Enos, H. L.; Freund Kasper, S.; Garvin, J. B.; Getzandanner, K.; Golish, D. R.; Hamilton, V. E.; Hergenrother, C. W.; Kaplan, H. H.; Keller, L. P.; Lessac-Chenen, E. J.; Liounis, A. J.; Ma, H.; McCarthy, L. K.; Miller, B. D.; Moreau, M. C.; Morota, T.; Nelson, D. S.; Nolau, J. O.; Olds, R.; Pajola, M.; Pelgrift, J. Y.; Polit, A. T.; Ravine, M. A.; Reuter, D. C.; Rizk, B.; Rozitis, B.; Ryan, A. J.; Sahr, E. M.; Sakatani, N.; Seabrook, J. A.; Selznick, S. H.; Skeen, M. A.; Simon, A. A.; Sugita, S.; Walsh, K. J.; Westermann, M. M.; Wolner, C. W. V. and Yumoto, K. (2022). Spacecraft sample collection and subsurface excavation of asteroid (101955) Bennu. Science, 377(6603) pp. 285–291.



Carbonaceous asteroids, such as (101955) Bennu, preserve material from the early Solar System, including volatile compounds and organic molecules. We report spacecraft imaging and spectral data collected during and after retrieval of a sample from Bennu’s surface. The sampling event mobilized rocks and dust into a debris plume, excavating a 9-meter-long elliptical crater. This exposed material is darker, spectrally redder, and more abundant in fine particulates than the original surface. The bulk density of the displaced subsurface material was 500 to 700 kilograms per cubic meter, which is about half that of the whole asteroid. Particulates that landed on instrument optics spectrally resemble aqueously altered carbonaceous meteorites. The spacecraft stored 250 ± 101 grams of material, which will be delivered to Earth in 2023.

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