Water may have been brought to Earth by asteroids, “precious samples” from recent space mission show

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Water may have been brought to Earth by asteroids from the outer edges of the solar system, scientists said after analyzing rare samples collected during a six-year Japanese space mission.

In a quest to shed light on the origin of life and the formation of the universe, researchers investigate material returned to Earth in 2020 of the asteroid Ryugu.

Japanese Hayabusa2 probe, which is about the size of a refrigerator, was launched in December 2014 and landed on the diamond-shaped asteroid Ryugu, meaning “dragon palace” in Japanese, 185 million miles away. When it crashed to Earth in 2020, the capsule put on a stunning show over the Australian outback, shooting through the sky like a dazzling fireball.

The 5.4 grams (0.2 ounces) of rocks and dust were collected by the Japanese space probe that landed on the celestial body and fired an “impactor” into the surface.

Studies on the material are beginning to be published, and in June a group of researchers said they had found organic material that showed that some of the building blocks of life on Earth, amino acids, may have formed in space.

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists said the Ryugu samples could provide clues to the mystery of how oceans appeared on Earth billions of years ago.

“Volatile and organic-rich C-type asteroids may have been one of the most important sources of Earth’s water,” said the study by scientists from Japan and other countries, published Monday.

“The delivery of volatiles (i.e. organics and water) to the Earth is still a subject of remarkable debate,” it said.

But the organic materials found “in Ryugu particles, identified in this study, likely represent an important source of volatiles.”

The scientists hypothesized that such material likely has an “outer solar system origin,” but said it was “unlikely to be the sole source of volatiles delivered to early Earth.”

In the Nature Astronomy study, the researchers again praised the findings that made the mission possible.

“Ryugu particles are undoubtedly among the most uncontaminated materials of the solar system available for laboratory research, and ongoing investigations of these precious samples will certainly advance our understanding of early solar system processes,” the study said.

The NASA OSIRIS-REx Mission collected a sample from another nearby asteroid – Bennu, which is similar to Ryugu. The monster will return to Earth in 2023.

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This November 13, 2019 file image released by JAXA shows asteroid Ryugu taken by the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2.

JAXA via AP, File


Sophie Lewis contributed to this report.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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