This Week at NASA: Discoveries in Historic Asteroid Samples and Psyche’s Journey to a Metal World
NASA recently unveiled remarkable findings from samples collected from the historic asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx mission. These samples, estimated to be 4.5 billion years old, have provided tantalizing evidence of water and a significant carbon presence. This discovery raises the possibility that the fundamental building blocks of life on Earth might be present within these ancient rocks and dust.
Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who returned to Earth on September 27, shared insights from his groundbreaking 371-day spaceflight during a news conference held on October 13. Rubio’s mission aboard the International Space Station broke records for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut. His experiences shed light on the unique qualities of our planet and the intricate mechanisms that sustain all of humanity. Extended spaceflights, like Rubio’s, offer invaluable data to comprehend the effects of prolonged space travel on the human body—a crucial aspect as we prepare for upcoming lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program and eventual human exploration of Mars.
On the same day, October 13, NASA’s Psyche spacecraft embarked on its journey to a peculiar asteroid, Psyche, which is rich in metals. This mission aims to deepen our understanding of the formation of rocky planets like Earth. Notably, it marks NASA’s first venture to investigate an asteroid primarily composed of metals rather than rock or ice. Accompanying Psyche is a pioneering technology demonstration known as NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment, which will test laser communications beyond the Moon.
In addition to these space missions, NASA provided live coverage of the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023. This celestial event created a mesmerizing “ring of fire” as the Moon passed in front of the Sun but appeared too small to completely obscure the Sun’s surface. The coverage was accessible through NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app, as well as on various NASA social media platforms.
Stay tuned for more captivating updates from NASA as they continue to push the boundaries of space exploration and scientific discovery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NASA Discoveries
What were the key findings from the asteroid samples collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission?
Initial analysis of the asteroid samples from Bennu, as revealed by NASA, showed evidence of both water and high-carbon content. These findings raise the intriguing possibility that the building blocks of life on Earth could be present in these ancient rocks and dust.
What record did NASA astronaut Frank Rubio achieve during his spaceflight?
During his 371-day spaceflight aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio set a record for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut. This mission aimed to advance scientific knowledge and test new technologies for future lunar and Martian exploration missions as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
What is the objective of NASA’s Psyche mission?
NASA’s Psyche mission is on its way to study a metal-rich asteroid of the same name. The mission seeks to provide insights into how rocky planets, including Earth, formed. Notably, this mission is NASA’s first attempt to investigate an asteroid that consists primarily of metal rather than rock or ice.
How can I watch the annular solar eclipse that NASA covered on October 14, 2023?
NASA provided live coverage of the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023. To watch the eclipse, you can tune in to NASA Television, visit the agency’s website, or use the NASA app. The coverage was also available on various NASA social media platforms.
Where can I learn more about upcoming celestial events and eclipses?
For information on upcoming celestial events, including the next total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, you can visit science.nasa.gov/eclipses, where NASA provides details and resources about these exciting astronomical occurrences.
More about NASA Discoveries
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission: Information about the mission that collected the asteroid samples.
- NASA’s Artemis Program: Details about NASA’s initiative to return humans to the Moon.
- NASA’s Psyche Mission: Information on the Psyche spacecraft and its mission to study the metal-rich asteroid.
- NASA’s Annular Solar Eclipse Coverage: Coverage of the annular solar eclipse and other celestial events by NASA.
- NASA’s Eclipse Website: Information on upcoming celestial events and eclipses.