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Bits of Bennu asteroid to arrive at UBC

September 24, 2023

This weekend, samples collected from the Bennu asteroid successfully touched down in the Utah Test and Training Range—a milestone for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission and partners at the Canadian Space Agency. UBC has already made major contributions to the mission – a team including UBC planetary scientist Dr. Catherine Johnston used data from the Canadian-designed OSIRIS-REx laser altimeter to help select a safe sampling site. 

Now, after evaluation, a portion of that material—potentially dating back to the birth of the solar system roughly 4.5 billion years ago—will be delivered to UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR) for analysis. Dr. Dominique Weis, director of the facility, discusses the challenges of providing high-precision, low-level isotopic and geochemical analysis of rock and dust samples from what’s been described as a rubble pile of an asteroid.

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