Scientists have found water and organic matter on the surface of an asteroid sample collected from the solar system – the first time that such material has been found on an asteroid.
The sample, which was only a single grain, came from asteroid 'Itokawa' by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (Jaxa) first Hayabusa mission in 2010.
It shows both water and organic matter that originate not from an alien world, but from the asteroid itself. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, suggest that the asteroid had been evolving for billions of years by incorporating the liquid and organic material in the same way Earth does.
The asteroid has weathered extreme heat, dehydration, and shattering, but managed to re-form and rehydrate using material it picked up. The study also shows that S-type asteroids – which are the most common ones that come to Earth – can contain the raw components of life.
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