First Look at Asteroid Water Samples Might Reveal Earth’s Ocean History

First Look at Asteroid Water Samples Might Reveal Earth’s Ocean History

They also suggest that even nominally dry asteroids such as Itokawa may in fact harbour more water than scientists have assumed.

Of course, it's all fake, but it's good to know NASA succeeded in its mission to deflect the asteroid. These missions can detect the smallest of changes on the surface of these asteroids that could occur due to Earth's gravity during the flyby.

The study was led by Ziliang Jin, a postdoctoral scholar at ASU, and was published this week in Science Advances.

"Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 now known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs)", Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies, said in the release.

The two Itokawa particles studied by the team are tiny: for comparison, a human hair is 100 to 500 microns in diameter.

There was no intention to study the samples for evidence of water until two researchers from Arizona State, Jin and Maitrayee Bose, proposed it.

Researchers looked at the samples' mineral grains and found that they were surprisingly rich in water. They were the first ones that looked for water when analyzing the samples.

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The findings are sort of curious and weird given the fact that Itokawa is labeled as an s-type of an asteroid which means that the rock is stony. That's about the same distance as some spacecraft orbit the earth at.

NASA this week revealed that scientists are planning a flyby study of the large 340-metre wide 99942 Apophis asteroid that will cruise past Earth in 2029, narrowly missing impact.

It resembles a pair of rubble piles crunched together. At one point, it encountered high temperatures that heated it to 1,000 or 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists believe that Itokawa is a remnant of a much larger space object that was shattered by a collision some 8 million years ago. The distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid's closest approach. And yet, they retain water.

The minerals have hydrogen isotopic compositions that are indistinguishable from Earth.

"This means S-type asteroids and the parent bodies of ordinary chondrites are likely a critical source of water and several other elements for the terrestrial planets", Dr. Bose said. This type of asteroid makes up about 17% of known asteroids.

Scientists say most asteroids that pass near Earth aren't more than 30 feet wide, making Apophis, named for an Egyptian god of chaos, a rare opportunity for research.

This information can tell us more about the solar system, the formation of our Earth and also about space and the things that are out there.

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