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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 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 Boynton
  • M 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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number4
Early online date19 Mar 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2019


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.

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    Accepted author manuscript, 1.45 MB, PDF document


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