Earth’s water could come from asteroids, Hayabusa 2 samples suggest

New Ryugu asteroid sample findings

The Hayabusa-2 mission’s goal was to investigate an asteroid that could potentially shed new light on the early formation of the Solar System. Now, new studies are starting to emerge based on investigations and analyses of the Ryugu samples collected by JAXA.

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists said the samples suggest asteroids may have been one of the primary sources of water during the Earth’s early formation. “Ryugu particles are undoubtedly among the most uncontaminated Solar System materials available for laboratory study, and ongoing investigations of these precious samples will certainly expand our understanding of early Solar System processes,” the study explains.

In June, another study highlighted organic material found on Ryugu, suggesting the building blocks of life, amino acids, may have come from asteroids.

In the new study, published Monday, August 15, the scientists wrote that “volatile and organic-rich C-type asteroids may have been one of the main sources of Earth’s water. The delivery of volatiles (organics and water) to the Earth is still a subject of notable debate.”

Crucially, the organic materials discovered “in Ryugu particles, identified in this study, probably represent one important source of volatiles.” The scientists say these materials may have had an “outer Solar System origin,” though they concede that they were “unlikely to be the only source of volatiles delivered to the early Earth.”

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