NASA says asteroid Bennu faces the might of the Sun every 4.3 hours and this is how it impacted the asteroid.
Since NASA had launched the OSIRIS-REx mission, the asteroid-study and sample-return mission on the surface of the asteroid Bennu, it always left scientists and everyone else surprised with new findings. Now, a recent finding revealed a strange secret about the asteroid Bennu. NASA revealed that surface regeneration of some asteroids happens a lot quicker than on Earth. The result came while analysing the high-resolution images taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft of the rock fractures available on asteroid Bennu. This study revealed that the Sun fractures rocks on asteroid Bennu in just 10,000 to 100,000 years.
Isn’t it too long? Well, this huge timeframe might sound slow, but senior scientist Marco Delbo says, “we thought surface regeneration on asteroids took a few millions of years. We were surprised to learn that the aging and weathering process on asteroids happens so quickly, geologically speaking.” NASA’s scientists used a computer model and fracture measurements to calculate this timeframe for thermal fractures.
Why Asteroid Bennu have cracks on its surface?
Surprisingly, this is all because of the fact that the Sun rises every 4.3 hours on asteroid Bennu. During the daytime, the highest temperature can even reach almost 260 Fahrenheit at the equator. While, in the night-time, the lowest temperature can go down to around minus 10 Fahrenheit. These rapid changes in the temperature conditions on asteroid Bennu built up the internal stress which resulted in fractures and breaking down rocks, which NASA showed in the shared images.
Moreover, these thermal fractures on asteroid Bennu left due to the changes in the temperature by the Sun are similar to what we find on the surface of Earth as well as Mars, scientist Christophe Matonti suggested. “It is fascinating to see that they can exist and are similar in very ‘exotic’ physical conditions [low gravity, no atmosphere], even compared to Mars.”
Further to unveil more secrets about the age of asteroids, NASA considers this information about the asteroid thermal cracks will help scientists to calculate how long it takes boulders on asteroids like Bennu to break down into smaller particles. Also, whether they eject into space or stay on the asteroid’s surface are yet to be revealed.