Scientists on a Japanese space mission after analysing some rare samples said water may have been brought to Earth by asteroids from the outer edges of the solar system. To put light on the origins of life and the formation of the universe, researchers are scrutinising material were brought back to earth in 2020 from the asteroid Ryugu.
The 5.4 grams (0.2 ounces) of rocks and dust were gathered by a Japanese space probe, called Hayabusa-2, that landed on the celestial body and fired an “impactor” into its surface.
Soon the studies on the material had started and slowly began to publish. In June, one group of researchers mentioned that they had found organic material that showed some of the building blocks of life on Earth, amino acids, may have been formed in space.
On Monday, a study by scientists from Japan and other countries was published. Regarding this they said, “Volatile and organic-rich C-type asteroids may have been one of the main sources of Earth’s water. The delivery of volatiles (that is, organics and water) to the Earth is still a subject of notable debate. But the organic materials found in Ryugu particles, identified in this study, probably represent one important source of volatiles”.
Hayabusa-2 was launched in 2014 on its mission to Ryugu, around 300 million kilometres away, and returned to Earth’s orbit two years ago to drop off a capsule containing the sample.
The Nature Astronomy study said, “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.”