Computer simulations based on OSIRIS-REx data have shown that thermal cracks can crack and destroy rock rocks on the surface of the asteroid Benn in 10 to 100,000 years, which is very fast for geological processes.
Microscopic images from the PolyCam camera installed on board the mission's OSIRIS-REx have captured high-resolution asteroid surface, and researchers have detected more than 1,500 cracks in mountain rocks, some of which were no larger than a tennis racket and others larger than the court.
In their work published in Nature Geoscientology, planetologists have shown that most of the cracks on the rock surface are directed in one direction; they are mostly aligned from north-west to south-east; this indicates that they were caused by 24-hour heat variations.
The rapid temperature changes on Benn cause internal tension that splits and destroys rocks, and scientists think it's like a cold glass cracking under hot water, and the sun rises over an asteroid every 4.3 hours. Day temperatures can range from 127 °C by day to -23 °C by night.
Researchers point out that if landslides or blows moved boulders faster than cracks spread, they would point in a random direction; because they are not, scientists believe that the Sun is the main cause of geological evolution of the asteroid surface.
Computer simulations based on the measurement of these cracks have shown that the destruction of the rock on the surface of Benn takes between 10,000 and 100,000 years.
We thought that asteroid surface regeneration took several million years, and we were surprised to learn that the processes of aging and weathering on asteroids were happening so quickly, geologically.