Asteroid (101955) Bennu in the Laboratory: Properties of the Sample Collected by OSIRIS-RExOPEN ACCESS 

Dante S. Lauretta, Harold C. Connolly, Jr., Joseph E. Aebersold, Conel M. O. D. Alexander, Ronald-L. Ballouz, Jessica J. Barnes, Helena C. Bates, Carina A. Bennett, Laurinne Blanche, Erika H. Blumenfeld, Simon J. Clemett, George D. Cody, Daniella N. Della Giustina, Jason P. Dworkin, Scott A. Eckley, Dionysis I. Foustoukos, Ian A. Franchi, Daniel P. Glavin, Richard C. Greenwood, Pierre Haenecour, Victoria E. Hamilton, Dolores H. Hill, Takahiro Hiroi, Kana Ishimaru, Fred Jourdan, Hannah H. Kaplan, Lindsay P. Keller, Ashley J. King, Piers Koefoed, Melissa K. Kontogiannis, Loan Le, Robert J. Macke, Timothy J. McCoy, Ralph E. Milliken, Jens Najorka, Ann N. Nguyen, Maurizio Pajola, Anjani T. Polit, Heather L. Roper, Sara S. Russell, Andrew J. Ryan, Scott A. Sandford, Paul F. Schofield, Cody D. Schultz, Shogo Tachibana22, Kathie L. Thomas-Keprta, Michelle S. Thompson, Valerie Tu, Filippo Tusberti, Kun Wang, Thomas J. Zega, C. W. V Wolner, and the OSIRIS-REx Sample Analysis Team

Submitted to Meteoritics and Planetary Science
April 18, 2024


“On 24 September 2023, the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission dropped a capsule to Earth containing approximately 120 g of pristine carbonaceous regolith from Bennu. We describe the delivery and initial allocation of this asteroid sample and introduce its bulk physical, chemical, and mineralogical properties from early analyses. The regolith is very dark overall, with higher-reflectance inclusions and particles interspersed. Particle sizes range from sub-micron dust to a stone about 3.5 cm long. Millimeter-scale and larger stones typically have hummocky or angular morphologies. A subset of the stones appears mottled by brighter material that occurs as veins and crusts. Hummocky stones have the lowest densities and mottled stones have the highest. Remote sensing of the surface of Bennu detected hydrated phyllosilicates, magnetite, organic compounds, carbonates, and scarce anhydrous silicates, all of which the sample confirms. We also find sulfides, presolar grains, and, less expectedly, Na-rich phosphates, as well as other trace phases. The sample composition and mineralogy indicate substantial aqueous alteration and resemble those of Ryugu and the most chemically primitive, low-petrologic-type carbonaceous chondrites. Nevertheless, we find distinct hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen isotopic compositions, and some of the material we analyzed is enriched in fluid-mobile elements. Our findings underscore the value of sample return, especially for low-density material that may not readily survive atmospheric entry, and lay the groundwork for more comprehensive analyses.”