Things are so much better done together! And, good thing Northern Virginia is full of fun activities to do with family and/or friends! This week you can check out the Bennu asteroid at the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian Institution has always been a hub of scientific exploration and discovery, and its latest exhibition is no exception. At the Museum of Natural History, a remarkable display promises to capture the attention of space enthusiasts and scientists alike. Beginning on November 3rd, the Smithsonian will unveil a captivating exhibition that features samples from the Bennu asteroid. This exhibit offers a new perspective on some of the mysteries of our planet’s history.

A Journey to Bennu

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a collection of samples from the Bennu asteroid. This small celestial body orbits the Sun and has been a subject of fascination for scientists for many years. The Bennu asteroid, named after the ancient Egyptian bird deity associated with rebirth, is a primitive, carbon-rich asteroid. It was the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. The mission collected samples from the asteroid’s surface in 2020 and returned them to Earth in September 2023. The Smithsonian’s exhibit is a result of close collaboration with NASA. It allows visitors an opportunity to explore pieces of an object that has journeyed through the cosmos for billions of years.

A Glimpse into the Past

The samples on display at the Smithsonian reveal a glimpse into the early history of our solar system. Scientists believe that carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu may hold clues to the origin of life on Earth, as they are remnants from the early solar system, containing a time capsule of the materials that existed when planets were forming. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see actual pieces of Bennu and learn about the complex scientific techniques used to collect and study them.

Unveiling the Mysteries

One of the most exciting aspects of the Smithsonian’s Bennu exhibition is the opportunity for visitors to understand the significance of this asteroid and its potential impact on Earth. While Bennu is not a planet-sized threat, it is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), and its trajectory brings it close to our planet. Scientists are keenly interested in studying NEOs like Bennu to better predict their orbits and assess any potential hazards they may pose in the future.

Visiting the Exhibit

The Bennu sample will be on display in the National Museum of Natural History’s Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals meteorite gallery. Visitors can also view models of the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft that collected the samples and returned them to Earth. The museum is open daily from 10:00 am until 5:30pm and admission is free. 

If you’re looking for a space-inspired adventure that combines science and history, this is a must see.  It’s a journey that will inspire, educate, and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the mysteries of the universe.