While it is true astronomers hope the asteroid Bennu may give us some clue as to how life molecules could have come to Earth (more on that later), it is almost certainly false that it harbors any life of its own. Not that that has stopped some people from inventing an alien-laden conspiracy theory.
Scott C. Waring, a self-described UFO researcher, has identified rock formations that he says are actually the ruins of a now-gone alien civilization. Writing on UFO Sightings Daily, a blog for UFO enthusiasts, Waring asks, "Have you ever wondered how NASA chose to explore a certain asteroid in space?"
"Well, they chose according to those closest, slowest and with the most alien tech on it. These structure [sic.] are on Asteroid Bennu and show buildings, towers, pyramids and even some abandoned ships."
He goes on to say that they were likely abandoned millions of years ago – hence their scruffy, "beat up" state.
As proof, Waring posted images of Bennu recently captured by NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe, helpfully circling in red the suspicious looking objects.
We have to be honest. From where we're sitting these "black or silver objects" he is referring to look a lot like plain ol' space rock. Waring claims to have 30 additional images, providing more evidence that extra-terrestrial entities have touched down on Bennu. Though for now, it is probably best to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism.
But while it is highly unlikely NASA will uncover proof of an ancient alien race during its OSIRIS-REx mission, astronomers do hope that it will tell us something about the Solar System and how water and other organic matter arrived here on Earth (paving the way for life).
Infrared observations have already revealed similarities between the composition of Bennu and various meteorites that have at one point or another crashed into the Blue Planet. (Fortunately for us, the reality of Bennu itself colliding with Earth, though possible, is incredibly slim. And even if it did, the asteroid is simply not big enough to present an existential threat to life on the planet.)
"Scientists are interested in the composition of Bennu because similar objects may have seeded the Earth with water and organic materials," Victoria Hamilton, a mission co-investigator at the Southwest Research Institute, said in a statement.
"OSIRIS-REx data confirm previous ground-based observations pointing to aqueously altered, hydrated minerals on the surface of the asteroid."
While we cannot promise alien life, the probe has succeeded in taking some pretty spectacular images of Bennu – enjoy.