NASA probe first detected the formation of cracks on a rocky asteroid under the influence of the Sun

(ORDO NEWS) — An analysis of Bennu’s asteroid images from the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft made it possible to see what was impossible to see earlier — namely, that the asteroid’s cosmic rocks are susceptible to solar radiation.

Space experts have finally found evidence that even a small solar effect can cause cracks on stone asteroids. The destruction of stones on Bennu asteroid occurs at the moment when sunlight heats them during the day, and then leaves, which causes them to cool.

Scientists came to such conclusions after images provided by NASA from the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) probe. Here’s what Dr. Jamie Molaro of the Institute of Planetology, lead author of a new research paper, said on this subject:

“We first found evidence of the process of so-called thermal rupture. This has never before been observed in objects without an atmosphere. This is one of the pieces of the puzzle that will allow us to find out what the surface was and what it will be like in millions of years. ”

It turned out that the rocks expand at the moment when sunlight heats them during the day, and shrink when they cool at night, causing a process that gradually forms growing cracks.

Scientists have long suspected that thermal rupture could be an important weathering process on airless objects such as asteroids, because many experience extreme changes in day and night temperatures.

Daytime highs recorded on Bennu asteroid can reach almost 127C, and nightly lows drop sharply to about minus 73C.

Nevertheless, many of the control characteristics of thermal fracture are small, and until the time when OSIRIS-REx approached Benn, humanity simply did not have high-resolution images needed to confirm thermal fracture on asteroids.


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