Is NASA sending a spacecraft to a nearby asteroid to bring back a rock sample or to check out a pyramid on its surface? That’s the question being asked by many who have seen a video and photos purported to have been created by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) showing what appears to be a large black pyramid on asteroid 1999-RQ36, the target of the OSIRIS-REx mission scheduled for launch in late 2016.
1999-RQ36 (renamed in a contest 101955 Bennu or Bennu for short) was discovered on September 11, 1999, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project. It has a mean diameter of approximately 493 meters and is listed as a possible Earth impactor between 2169 and 2199. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security -- Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in 2016, travel to the near-Earth asteroid for a landing in 2018 and return to Earth with a 2.1-ounce sample of its soil in 2023. Here’s the official purpose of the trip from NASA:
The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
So what about the pyramid? Or the other rectangular objects on the asteroid? NASA makes no mention of them, nor does ISRO say anything about them or the video on its web site. No names or other specifics have been released.
Are they covering up a secret second purpose of the mission? Some buzz on the Internet focuses on the pyramid being an alien mining project while others say its an alien space station. Others think it might be remnants of a volcano. The massive size of the pyramid in relation to the asteroid make some of these theories questionable. Not to mention the lack on any details on the source of the video.
Was the video doctored? Is it just a rock jutting out from Bennu? Is the whole thing a hoax? What do you think?