Space Agency staff with a capsule containing samples from an asteroid after Hayabusa-2 landed in Australia in 2020
Where does the water on earth come from?
Many scientists asked themselves this question.
According to a Japanese study, it could have originated at the edge of our solar system and arrived on Earth with the help of asteroids.
"Type C asteroids, rich in volatiles and organic matter, may have been one of the main sources of water on Earth," according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The researchers from Japan and other countries had examined material that the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 brought back to Earth from the asteroid Ryugu two years ago.
In search of the origins of life and the origin of the universe, the scientists analyzed rare rock and dust samples collected by the spacecraft during its six-year space mission.
Other sources of volatiles likely
According to the study, the organic material found in the 5.4 gram Ryugu particles is likely to be an important source of volatile substances, i.e. carbonaceous substances that evaporate into the gaseous state at higher temperatures.
The scientists hypothesized that this material probably came from the outer solar system and was brought to Earth by asteroids.
Thus, there could be other sources of volatiles that made their way to early Earth.
The Hayabusa-2 space probe was launched in 2014 on its mission to the asteroid Ryugu, around 300 million kilometers away, and returned to orbit two years ago to drop a capsule with the sample.
In the study, the scientists again pointed out the importance of the mission for research.
According to this, Ryugu particles would be among the least contaminated solar system materials available for laboratory studies.
Ongoing studies of these samples would "certainly advance our understanding of early solar system processes."