NASA has announced that it has selected three prestigious museums to display samples of the space rock material brought back from the asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx mission. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Space Center Houston, and the University of Arizona’s Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum have been chosen to showcase these valuable specimens.
The Smithsonian expects to receive two samples of Bennu, with one being a cornerstone of the museum’s research initiative and the other being put on exhibit in the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. Meanwhile, the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum will display a sample starting in November, allowing visitors to marvel at this extraordinary space rock.
The exact details of the displays, including the size and nature of the material, are still being finalized. However, the arrival of these samples is a cause for celebration, as it represents a significant milestone in space exploration.
The OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample return capsule touched down in the Utah desert on September 24th, carrying approximately 8.8 ounces (250 grams) of rocks and soil from Bennu. The capsule is currently being inspected, categorized, and studied by scientists before the material is delivered to the museums.
Most of the material will be distributed to a sample analysis team for further scientific study. A sample catalog will be released in about six months, providing valuable insights into the composition and properties of this extraterrestrial material.
In addition to the U.S. museums, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will also receive a portion of the samples as part of their partnerships with NASA. The remaining material retained by NASA will be kept at the Johnson Space Center, with some stored at a secure backup facility in New Mexico.
This marks the third time a U.S. interplanetary mission has successfully brought back collected material to Earth, following the Stardust and Genesis missions. Stardust collected samples from Comet Wild 2, while Genesis aimed to retrieve solar wind particles but unfortunately crashed during its sample return. The material collected from these missions is currently curated at the Johnson Space Center and on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
The display of these space rock samples at the selected museums will not only captivate visitors but also contribute to ongoing scientific research, expanding our understanding of the solar system and its origins.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Devoted music geek. Troublemaker. Typical analyst. Alcohol practitioner. Food junkie. Passionate tv fan. Web expert.”