Ancient black dust and chunks are from asteroid named Bennu, almost 60m miles away and collected three years ago

Chunks of a 4.6bn-year-old asteroid brought to Earth last month show evidence of high levels of carbon and water, Nasa said Wednesday as the space agency revealed preliminary findings from its pioneering Osiris-Rex mission.

Scientists have been analyzing the samples from the asteroid Bennu since they were dropped off by a spacecraft flyby of the Utah desert on 24 September. Principal investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, told reporters at Houston’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) they were “scientific treasure”.

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