Shape of (101955) Bennu indicative of a rubble pile with internal stiffness

The OSIRIS-REx Team, O Barnouin, M Daly, E Palmer, R Gaskell, J Weirich, C Johnson, M Al Asad, J Roberts, M Perry, Hannah Susorney, R Daly, E Bierhaus, J Seabrook, R Espiritu, A Nair, L Nguyen, G Neumann, C Ernst, W BoyntonM Nolan, C Adam, M Moreau, B Rizk, C Drouet D’Aubigny, E Jawin, K Walsh, P Michel, S Schwartz, R-L Ballouz, E Mazarico, D Scheeres, J McMahon, W Bottke, S Sugita, N Hirata, S Watanabe, K Burke, D DellaGiustina, C Bennett, C Bennett, D Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)
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The shapes of asteroids reflect interplay between their interior properties and the processes responsible for their formation and evolution as they journey through the Solar System. Prior to the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer) mission, Earth-based radar imaging gave an overview of (101955) Bennu’s shape. Here we construct a high-resolution shape model from OSIRIS-REx images. We find that Bennu’s top-like shape, considerable macroporosity and prominent surface boulders suggest that it is a rubble pile. High-standing, north–south ridges that extend from pole to pole, many long grooves and surface mass wasting indicate some low levels of internal friction and/or cohesion. Our shape model indicates that, similar to other top-shaped asteroids, Bennu formed by reaccumulation and underwent past periods of fast spin, which led to its current shape. Today, Bennu might follow a different evolutionary pathway, with an interior stiffness that permits surface cracking and mass wasting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number4
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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