The OSIRIS-RX mission explains the phenomena of mysterious pino particles
Shortly after the NASA OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft arrived in the asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the scientific expedition team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or could be continuously releasing particles into space.
An ongoing test of Benu – and his sample that will eventually return to Earth – can shed light on the reason for this fascinating event.
The OSIRIS-RX team first observed the particle emission event in a photo taken on camera on the spacecraft on January 6, a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Pino.
At first glance, the particles seemed to be behind the asteroid, but upon closer examination, the team realized that the asteroid was removing elements from its surface.
I came to the conclusion that these particles did not compromise the protection of the spacecraft, the mission began documented monitoring of the entire operation.
Dante Loretta, a top investigator at the University of Arizona at Tucson, says, “To many of Pino’s wonders, particle emissions have heightened our curiosity, and we’ve spent the past few months exploring this mystery.” “This is a great opportunity to broaden our knowledge of how planetary scientists behave” ”
After studying the results of the observations, the assignment team published their findings in a science study published December 6. The team noted the three largest particulate emissions events in January.
February 6, 19 and 11, and decided that the events originated from several locations on the pino surface.
The first event originated in the southern hemisphere, and the second and third incident occurred near the equatorial region. Three incidents took place on the Pino last afternoon.
The team discovered that after extracting the asteroid’s surface, the particles rotated for a short time, and Pino again fell to his bottom or escaped from Pino into space.
The observed particles travel 10 feet (3 meters) per second, and their size is measured from one inch to 4 inches (10 cm). About 200 particles were detected in the largest event that occurred on January 200.
The team investigated a wide range of possible mechanisms that could lead to expulsion events, and narrowed the list down to three candidates: meteorite effects, thermal stress fractures, and release of water vapor.
Meteorite effects are prevalent in deep-lying Bennu foothills, and it is possible that these small portions of space rock will reach Bennu where OSIRIS-Rex does not monitor them and shake loose particles with the speed of their impact.
The team also decided that a more reasonable explanation for thermal cracking. Beno surface temperatures vary greatly during their 4.3 hour rotation period.
Although it is very winter during the night, the surface of the asteroid remains very hot in the afternoon, during the three major events.
These temperature changes can cause the rocks to begin to break down, and eventually the particles can be removed from the surface. This cycle is known as a thermal pressure break.
The release of water can also explain the activity of the asteroid. Once the closed barnu clay is heated with water, the water may release and start pressing.
It is possible that as the absorbing water drains, the surface of the stone may be disrupted, as the pressure in the cracks and pores of the stones increases, causing the particle to explode.
However, nature does not always provide an easy explanation. “There could be more than one of these potential mechanisms,” said Steve Chesley, a senior researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“For example, thermal cracking causes the surface material to be broken into smaller pieces, making it very easy for the meteorite effect to release the concrete into space.”
If thermal cracking, meteorological effects, or both are actually the cause of this ejection, then this event is likely to occur in all asteroids, as they all face these processes.
However, if the release of water is the cause of this emission, then this phenomenon may be for asteroids that contain water-carrying minerals like Bennu.
After returning to Earth for sample collection and study, Bennu offers more opportunities
Many of the particles that are removed are small enough to collect the spacecraft’s sample system, which means that the sample returned has some elements that have been removed and returned to the surface of the Bennu.
Determining that a particular molecule has been expelled and returned to the pino can be a scientific task similar to finding a needle in a straw.
However, the material that will return to Earth from the pino will certainly increase our understanding of asteroids and individual and similar systems, even if the particle emission continues.