Research provides new insights on origin, evolution of asteroid Bennu


York University-led research provides new insights on origin and evolution of asteroid Bennu

Friday October 9, 2020, TORONTO – Research published in Science Advances, led by Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Michael Daly, provides new insights into the formation of near-Earth asteroid, Bennu, and how it evolved into its present shape.

Daly, the lead instrument scientist for Canada’s contribution of the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), and a team of researchers, used data from OLA to create a 20-centimetre resolution model of Bennu’s roughly 500-metre diameter shape – the most detailed asteroid model to date. OLA and the Canadian science team are funded by the Canadian Space Agency.

Bennu is a near-Earth asteroid that formed in the asteroid belt and found its way into a closer proximity to Earth due to gravitational interactions with giant planets and forces due to heating from the Sun.

Canadian instrument on OSIRIS-REx took the most detailed 3D measurements of any celestial body ever explored
Photo credit:NASA/University of Arizona/Canadian Space Agency/York University/MDA

The analysis of this shape concludes that Bennu’s rounder southern hemisphere is caused by a hemispherical difference in the number of large boulders – a consequence of its formation – that are holding back finer surface material. The research also provides evidence of a past global, spin-related partial disruption that is still expressed in Bennu’s shape.

Our research on this type of asteroid is important in understanding the evolution the solar system and of the Earth, because it was this type of asteroid that delivered water and organics to the Earth,” says Daly, director of York’s Centre for Research in Earth and Space Science (CRESS).


Professor Michael Daly is available for interviews about the findings.

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