A space mission showed that Earth’s water could come from asteroids

In a new report published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists say the Ryugu samples offer clues to the mystery of the origin of oceans on Earth billions of years ago.

According to a study of a Japanese space mission carried out over 6 years, the water consumed on planet Earth could have come from asteroids in the outer edges of the solar system.

The Kochi2 team, supported by researchers from The Open University (OU) and UCLA, USA and led by Motoo Ito of JAMSTEC, published their study in Nature Astronomywhere they account for the eight particles returned to Earth from the asteroid ‘Ryugu’ by JAXA3.

The 5.4 grams of rocks and dust were brought to Earth by the Japanese space probe, called Hayabusa-2, which landed on the asteroid Ryugu and launched an “impactor” on its surface.

Last June, a group of researchers indicated that they had found organic material that showed that some of the essential building blocks for life, amino acids, had been formed in space.

In a new report published by the journal Nature Astronomy, Scientists said the Ryugu samples offer clues to the mystery of the appearance of oceans on Earth billions of years ago..

Samples from the asteroid Ryugu returned by the Hayabusa 2 mission
Samples from the asteroid Ryugu returned by the Hayabusa 2 mission

“Volatile C-type asteroids rich in organic elements may have been one of the main sources of Earth’s water,” says the study by scientists from Japan and other countries.

Scientists theorize that this material likely has “an origin outside the solar system,” but they say it is “unlikely to be the only source of volatiles delivered to early Earth”.

Hayabusa-2 was launched in 2014 in the direction of Ryugu, about 300 million kilometers away, and returned to Earth orbit two years ago to drop a capsule with the samples.

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“The particles of Ryugu they are undoubtedly some of the least contaminated materials available in the solar system for laboratory study, and ongoing research on these valuable samples will expand our knowledge of early solar system processes,” the study states.

01/26/2021 The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 took pictures of the asteroid Ryugu while flying next to it two years ago.  JAXA RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY
01/26/2021 The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 took pictures of the asteroid Ryugu while flying next to it two years ago. JAXA RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY

The experts from The Open University performed oxygen isotope analyzes on Ryugu samples using data that was a critical component in establishing the links between the returned asteroid materials and the existing meteorite record.

According to spacecraft data, previously the Ryugu material was thought to have experienced high temperatures and that most of the water it contained had been expelled due to this. This theory was found to be incorrect.

In fact, the material contains a lot of water and organic matter, and the experts were able to confirm that the Ryugu samples are very similar to meteorites of the CI chondrite group (Ivuna type). These are the most important group of individual meteorites because they have a composition that matches that of the Solar System..

(With information from AFP)

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