Astronomers Have Just Found Water on an Asteroid

Astronomers Have Just Found Water on an Asteroid

A new discovery has been revealed by astronomers and this time, they have found water on an asteroid.

This finding has been realized by a mission of Japan’s Hayabusa space probe, which has gathered 1,500 particles from an asteroid named Itokawa and brought them back to Earth.

“That makes these asteroids high-priority targets for exploration,” said researcher Maitrayee Bose. has mentioned that while Itokawa looks like dusty and barren, the samples contained a water-rich mineral called pyroxene, — and the scientists behind the research claim that the discovery supports the hypothesis that asteroid collisions delivered at least some of Earth’s water.

“Sample-return missions are mandatory if we really want to do an in-depth study of planetary objects,” Bose said. “The Hayabusa mission to Itokawa has expanded our knowledge of the volatile contents of the bodies that helped form Earth. It would not be surprising if a similar mechanism of water production is common for rocky exoplanets around other stars.”

“We found the samples we examined were enriched in water compared to the average for inner solar system objects,” Ziliang Jin, a cosmochemist at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and lead author of the new study, said in a statement.

For realizing this study, scientists analyzed two of the particles from Hayabusa and decided that they contained rock-forming silicate minerals known as pyroxenes. Here on Earth, pyroxenes are known to contain water within their crystal structure. So, Jin and Bose thought the pyroxenes from Itokawa could contain water, too.

According to “After the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) granted them the samples for this study, Jin and Bose used the Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (NanoSIMS) at ASU to measure the composition of the tiny particles”.

Astronomers Have Just Found Water on an Asteroid
Researchers at Arizona State University analyzed two particles from asteroid Itokawa that were brought to Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa sample-return mission_image

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