Professor Dominique Weis set to receive samples from asteroid Bennu

August 2, 2023
Image credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

In September of 2016, the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched from Florida to an asteroid named Bennu, or near-Earth object 101955. Bennu’s orbits the sun once every 1.2 years along a path very similar to Earth’s own orbital path. The NASA spacecraft began orbiting Bennu in 2018 and collected samples from the asteroid in 2020. Now, OSIRIS-REx is on its way back to Earth with those samples. 


The samples collected by OSIRIS-REx will be investigated by American and Canadian scientists, including Dominique Weis, a geosciences professor at the Department of Earth Oceans and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC. 


Bennu consists of carbon-rich rock material thought to have broken off some larger object around one billion years ago. This makes Bennu one of the older rock formations in our solar system. Bennu’s relatively old age and rich organic matter composition may offer researchers insights into the origins of life on Earth and potential water sources within the solar system.