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Weekly Space Hangout

Dec 11, 2021

This week we are excited to welcome Dr. Saverio Cambioni to the Weekly Space Hangout. In October 2020, OSIRIS-REx successfully collected (and stowed) a sample from the asteroid Bennu in a Touch-And-Go (TAG) maneuver that could not have been attempted — much less completed — without the assistance of the CosmoQuest community who participated in the Bennu Mappers project.

Bennu Mappers launched on May 22, 2019, and ended a mere 92 days later on August 21. During this time, 3640 community members examined 4509 images which had been collected by ORSIRIS_REx during its 2 years of orbiting Bennu. They were tasked with identifying and marking rocks that exceeded a minimum size. Each image was marked by 15 people which amounts to over 14 Million total marks! This data was then forwarded to the OSIRIS-REx team and used to identify safe candidate landing sites, including Nightingale Crater where the sample was collected.

Needless to say, by the end of marking images, the weary cry of virtually everyone involved was "{EXPLETIVE} Bennu!" followed immediately by "SO. MANY. ROCKS!"

In a paper titled "Fine-Regolith Production on Asteroids Controlled by Rock Porosity" [] which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature on October 6, 2021, Saverio and his co-authors may have solved the mystery as to why there are SO. MANY. BOULDERS on Bennu by using machine learning and temperature data.

Dr. Saverio Cambioni earned his PhD in the Planetary Sciences at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, with a thesis on the application of Machine Learning to Planetary Sciences. He also holds a BSc and MSc in Aerospace and Space Engineering from Sapienza, University of Rome.

Saverio is currently the Crosby​ Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on the formation and evolution of asteroids and terrestrial planets.

You can learn more about Saverio and his research by visiting his website:

Be sure to also follow him on Twitter ( and Facebook (

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