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Bill Nelson, head of NASA, at a press conference in Houston, Texas: Sample from asteroid Bennu examined


A debris sample from the asteroid Bennu dropped on Earth about three weeks ago contains traces of water and carbon, according to the US space agency Nasa. This was shown by initial examinations of the sample, which, however, would have to be deepened with many further analyses, NASA announced at a press conference. It is the first successfully launched sample of an asteroid in the history of the U.S. space agency – and the largest such sample ever taken.

The sample was dropped in a capsule in September by NASA's Osiris-Rex probe over the desert of the US state of Utah. From there, the capsule was then taken to NASA laboratories in the US state of Texas – where around 200 scientists are now working on the material using 60 different examination methods. About three years ago, "Osiris-Rex" collected the sample from the celestial body with a complicated manoeuvre.

The sample consists of dust and pieces of debris of various sizes and weighs a total of about 250 grams, about as much as a packet of butter, NASA said. Contrary to expectations, NASA scientists also found additional material from the asteroid on and around the capsule, which is why the investigation initially took longer than planned.