There’s a special section in the grocery store
called organic but what kind of organic material is on asteroids? Join the 321Science team
as we explore what organic means. Most of us know the term “organic” because
it describes some foods we find in the store. This food is produced with limited chemical
fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives and is not irradiated.
But when a scientist says “this asteroid has lots of organic material,” she’s not talking
about lettuce. Scientists define organics as compounds that
include the element carbon. On Earth, carbon is the key component of all known life. That’s
plants and animals so that means us….and lettuce!
The word “organic” certainly applies to food, but when a scientist looks for organic material
on an asteroid, he’s looking for carbon compounds, not lettuce.
In 2023, the OSIRIS-REx mission will return a sample to Earth of the carbonaceous asteroid
Bennu and investigate the organic molecules it might hold.
This video is an OSIRIS-REx production. OSIRIS-REx is a partnership of the University of Arizona,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Lockheed Martin.