Asteroids shooting off particles are rare. The likelihood that an asteroid with particle spitting was also selected by NASA for observation is even rarer. This means that Bennu is an active asteroid, of which only a dozen were found among the nearly 800,000 observed scientists. "Feather discovery is one of the biggest surprises in my scientific career," said Dante Lauretta, senior investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson, in a NASA press release.
OSIRIS-REx scientists discovered the first particle explosion on Bennu's surface on January 6th. In the next few months, almost a dozen more would come. After deciding that the particles would not pose a risk to the spacecraft, the mission team decided to track them down to analyze their possible causes. The team is still finding exploding particles.
Other discoveries by Bennu are misleading scientists. For starters, the number of boulders on Bennu's surface is an unexpected finding. Based on Earth observations, the scientists expected Bennu to have a smooth surface ̵
The scientific community is in its surprise united with the recently discovered features of the Bennu asteroid. With the Bennu mission come many new dates and new questions. "I think the composition and especially the feathers were unexpected and therefore very exciting, what are these feathers?" Scott Hubbard told Stanford University in an email to Engadget. Could Bennu's feathers resemble the icy, geyser-like jets found on Enceladus, Saturn's moon? Or could they be something else?
Professor Avi Loeb, chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, told Engadget that recent revelations about the Bennu asteroid reminded him of Oscar Wilde's quote: "The only people who seem normal to me are those I do not care much about know well. "