LPL Evening Lecture | 'Relics of a Time Long Past: Deciphering the Origins of Our Planetary System Through Analysis of Returned Samples'
Relics of a Time Long Past: Deciphering the Origins of Our Planetary System Through Analysis of Returned Samples
Professor Tom Zega, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Our solar system formed from a spinning cloud of gas and dust some 4.5 billion years ago. Our understanding of this early solar nebula has largely been developed through the decades-long study of meteorites, rocks from asteroids that hurtled through space before eventually arriving on Earth. Asteroids are remnants of the earliest days of our solar system, representing our most primitive solar system building blocks. However, we lack an understanding of which asteroids meteorites derive from, meaning we lose important context for deciphering the origins of our solar system. This September, NASA will, for the first time in its history, return a piece of an asteroid. Led by the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, the OSIRIS-REx mission will return ≥60 g of carbonaceous asteroid Bennu. In my public evening lecture, I will provide an overview of meteorites and what they tell us about the solar system as well as an overview of this transformative mission, the plan for sample analysis, and what we hope to learn about our origins by measuring the returned samples.