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Craters, boulders and regolith of (101955) Bennu indicative of an old and dynamic surface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • K J Walsh
  • E Jawin
  • O Barnouin
  • E Bierhaus
  • H Connolly
  • J Molaro
  • T McCoy
  • M Delbo
  • C Hartzell
  • M Pajola
  • S Schwartz
  • D Trang
  • E Asphaug
  • K Becker
  • C Beddingfield
  • C Bennett
  • W Bottke
  • K Burke
  • B Clark
  • M Daly
  • D DellaGiustina
  • J Dworkin
  • C Elder
  • D Golish
  • A Hildebrand
  • R Malhotra
  • J Marshall
  • P MIchel
  • M Nolan
  • M Perry
  • B Rizk
  • A Ryan
  • S Sanford
  • D Scheeres
  • Hannah Susorney
  • F Thuillet
  • D Lauretta
  • The OSIRIS-REx Team
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-246
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number4
Early online date19 Mar 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2019


Small, kilometre-sized near-Earth asteroids are expected to have young and frequently refreshed surfaces for two reasons: collisional disruptions are frequent in the main asteroid belt where they originate, and thermal or tidal processes act on them once they become near-Earth asteroids. Here we present early measurements of numerous large candidate impact craters on near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer) mission, which indicate a surface that is between 100 million and 1 billion years old, predating Bennu’s expected duration as a near-Earth asteroid. We also observe many fractured boulders, the morphology of which suggests an influence of impact or thermal processes over a considerable amount of time since the boulders were exposed at the surface. However, the surface also shows signs of more recent mass movement: clusters of boulders at topographic lows, a deficiency of small craters and infill of large craters. The oldest features likely record events from Bennu’s time in the main asteroid belt.

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