Asteroid Bennu’s Surprising Surface

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Read the news release: Asteroid Bennu's Surface Revealed


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:

·       Animation of asteroid Bennu and OSIRIS-Rex sample collection: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab/Scientific Visualization Studio
·       Graphic animation of sample collection, cut-away: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab/SVS
·       Live-action b-roll of ball pit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab/SVS
·       Animation of asteroid Bennu and OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab/SVS

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Emma Marcucci
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits


We fly past a mosaic of cosmic images of planets, nebulas, and galaxies.
Text, News from the Universe. July 29, 2022. Asteroid Bennu's Surprising Surface. Animation.
A grayscale animation of Bennu spins. We move in towards its rocky surface.
Text, When NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected a sample from asteroid Bennu, the surface itself was a surprise.
OSIRIS-REx floats down to Bennu's surface. Its collection arm reaches down to the rocks.
Text, The spacecraft's sample collection arm sunk into the surface and kicked up six tons of loose rock.
As its arm hits the surface, millions of tiny rocks are kicked up into the air around it. They scatter out in all directions.
Text, Scientists compare the surface to a ball pit, and say it moves more like a liquid than a solid.
A cross-section animation of the rocky surface has layers of repeating yellow and purple rocks. As the arm sinks into the rocks, they splash up around it like water.
A ball falls into a ball pit. A child body-slams into the pit. Balls fly up, similar to the yellow and purple rocks.
Text, OSIRIS-REx will return to Earth with the sample in September 2023, when scientists will get a first-hand look at this surprising asteroid.
The spacecraft takes off from the surface. Rocks scatter around.
Text, This news was brought to you in part by the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.