February 2, 2023

Finding an asteroid gives clues to the early solar system

Meteorites always fall a land, sometimes they reach the ground, sometimes they don’t, and they can be almost invisible due to their size or even change the course of life on our planet. Such space rocks bring clues about the solar system’s past, even if they were altered upon entering Earth’s atmosphere.

In this way, seeking to study these historical materials, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa verified the precious samples collected from the Ryugu asteroid, which contained rocks and mineral grains older than our solar system, and the asteroid had not been altered. from Earth’s atmosphere, since it was brought in by the Hayabusa 2 space mission, organized by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

The scientists’ findings were published in the journal Nature Astronomy, where they report that Ryugu has softened in space, leading to partial melting of some minerals and drying out of the asteroid’s surface.

Since the material obtained from the asteroid orbits the sun every 16 months, it will be possible to investigate some of the events that occurred during the early stages of the solar system, including the evolution of volatiles, such as organic molecules and water itself.

The team was led by Takaaki Noguchi of Kyoto University, which included researchers from Kyoto University Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP)at school Science and Technology From Ocean and Land, University of Hawaii at Manoa. In addition, there are other HIGP-related co-authors, John Bradley, Kenta K. Ohtake, David R. Frank and Kazuhide Nagashima.

The researchers’ findings were that in the case of a C-type asteroid, such as Ryugu, the surface is covered with an anhydrous material (which does not contain water) over time. However, asteroids that appear dry from the surface may be water-rich, which could provide an overhaul for understanding asteroid types and the formation history of the asteroid belt.