Brian May says -
"It’s only recently we have begun to understand the enormous significance of asteroids in the fortunes of Planet Earth. It’s long been recognised that some of them have the power to destroy our planet by collision. But it’s now becoming evident that previous asteroid (and cometary) impacts supplied ALL the material from which our entire Biosphere is made - and as such are responsible for our very existence. This, together with the possible benefits to humanity from mining asteroids for minerals, gives us three vital reasons for making close studies of near-Earth asteroids. The OSIRIS-REx mission undertook by far the most intimate exploration of any asteroid to date, and here are the results, the fruits of the labours of a huge team of top scientists and engineers. Our aim has been to deliver this extraordinary portrait in a form which is understandable and enjoyable to scientists and non- scientists alike."
Professor Dante Lauretta says -
"The delivery of samples from asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is the culmination of almost two decades of intense effort. I am thrilled to share this adventure with the world as we enter the final stage of the mission – sample analysis."
Bennu is the most dangerous asteroid in the Solar System and there is a real chance that it might strike the Earth in 2182.
In 2020 NASA's OSIRISREx mission landed a spacecraft on Bennu and collected material from the surface for return to Earth. In September 2023 this material will arrive home and will be analysed in scientific labs worldwide - notably by scientists at London's Natural History Museum. The results will help to answer some of our deepest questions such as: where did we come from, and what is our destiny in space. Stereo pictures of the asteroid compiled by Sir Brian May and his colleague Claudia Manzoni played a crucial role in selecting the landing site and mapping the asteroid.
One of the most astonishing facts about asteroids is the role they play bringing metals, minerals and water to our planet. As such, they may be crucial to the emergence of life on Earth; hitherto they have been better known for their role in the extinction of the dinosaurs and the threat they pose to life should they collide with our planet.
As well as the most authoritative and detailed study ever of an asteroid, including the first ever Atlas of an asteroid, this book has been meticulously edited by Professor Dante Lauretta and Brian May to be a highly readable general introduction to asteroids, suitable for amateur astronomers and science buffs.
This is an unprecedented book, a chance to travel out into the solar system to another world and to explore it in magnificent 3-D. This spectacular journey of the mind and eye takes me to places I’ve never been, and warms my astro-loving heart!
David J. Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine.
AZPM Radio Interview About the project: Read More
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dante Lauretta is a Regents Professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics and a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona. He completed his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests include the formation and evolution of the Solar System and the origin of life, with an emphasis on laboratory studies of meteorites and returned extraterrestrial samples, as well as spacecraft exploration of asteroids and comets.
Sir Brian May, CBE, Ph.D, ARCS, FRAS is a founding member of the rock group Queen, a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer, 3-D stereoscopic photographic authority, author, publisher, and passionate campaigner for animal rights. On graduating from Imperial College London in 1968 with a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in physics, Brian began a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, recording high-resolution spectra of the Zodiacal Light using a home-spun Fabry-Perot Spectrometer. In 1974, when his musical career with Queen took over, Brian was forced to shelve his Ph.D. work, but in 2006, with the encouragement of Professor Michael Rowan Robinson, Professor Francisco Sanchez Martinez, Dr Garik Israelian, and Sir Patrick Moore, he returned to complete his studies.
Carina A. Bennett is a Project Manager and Software Engineer in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. She holds a B.A. in Media Arts and Creative Writing, a B.S. in Computer Science, and a M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Arizona as well as a M.F.A in Film Production from the University of Iowa. She is a collaborator on the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu and previously worked as a Senior Image Processing Engineer as part of the mission's Image Processing Working Group, where she developed software to automate the production of controlled mosaics and thematic maps for the mission. She has extensive experience working with images of irregularly shaped small planetary bodies and has advised the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center on the capabilities required to successfully implement 3-D shape model support. In 2019 Bennett was awarded the OSIRIS-REx PI Award of Distinction and has been nominated for a Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy for her video production work.
Kenneth S. Coles is Professor in the Department of Geography, Geology, Environment, and Planning and Planetarium Director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches astronomy and planetary geology courses. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in geology from Caltech and a Ph.D. in geology from Columbia University. For thirty years he has specialized in presenting planetary science discoveries to undergraduate students, schoolchildren, and the general public.
Claudia Manzoni is an amateur astro-stereographer who enjoys composing stereo views of Solar System objects from images in space agencies' archives -- something she has been collaborating on with Sir Brian May for almost ten years. This passion led her to contribute in the role of 3-D compositor and researcher to Mission Moon 3-D: Reliving the Great Space Race by David J. Eicher and Brian May, published by the London Stereoscopic Company and MIT Press in October 2018.
C. W. V. Wolner, also of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, is the Chief Editor of the OSIRIS-REx mission, overseeing the scientific publications produced by the team and writing about their findings for different audiences. Wolner completed a B.A. at Oberlin College and the University of Aberdeen, and a M.S. at the University of Virginia, both in Earth sciences. She has also taught undergraduate geology in the laboratory and the field. Before joining OSIRIS-REx, she worked at the editorial-production nexus of the journal Science and as a science writer with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, where her team received an Award for Excellence from the White House for the 2014 National Climate Assessment.