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A boulder on Bennu. Photo: UofA/JHU-APL/York University

The asteroid Bennu has been orbiting the Sun not far from Earth, for about 1.75 million years, according to a recent study.

The big picture: By combining the new findings with data from a sample of the asteroid, researchers hope to learn more about the chaotic early days of our solar system and to figure out how Earth eventually gave rise to life.

What they found: The scientists behind a study in the journal Nature used images from NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu to count craters on the asteroid's surface in order to estimate how long it has been in the inner solar system.

  • Older objects have had more time for craters to accumulate and counting the features on planetary surfaces is a longstanding technique.
  • "The amazing data collected by OSIRIS-REx at asteroid Bennu have allowed us to not just find impact craters across its surface, but to actually find and study the craters on the surfaces of boulders," Kevin Walsh said in a statement.

What's next: OSIRIS-REx nabbed a sample of the space rock that will be returned to Earth in 2023 and will offer more clues about Bennu's — and Earth's — past.

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.