(ORDO NEWS) — Our only star, according to a study by a team of Australian scientists, may be an unaccounted source of water on Earth and other planets in the solar system.
The work was published in the journal Nature Astronomy. It all started with the exploration of the class C asteroid Itokawa. It belongs to the near-Earth objects from the group of so-called Apollo with a highly elongated orbit, due to which they intersect with the orbits of the Earth and Mars. The length of the asteroid is small – only 535 meters, so it is considered small.
Itokawa was discovered on September 26, 1988, as part of the LINEAR program at the Socorro Observatory, and was named after the founder of the Japanese space program, Professor Hideo Itokawa. The rock samples were collected by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa and transferred to Earth in 2010. These were the first samples from an asteroid that were delivered to our planet.
In 2011, a number of studies were published in the journal Science that analyzed dust. As a result, scientists suggested that Itokawa could probably be called a fragment of a larger celestial body that disintegrated. The collected dust lay on the asteroid, according to experts, about eight million years. In March this year, another article was published in Scientific Reports: its authors showed that dust samples from Itokawa contain organic matter of extraterrestrial origin.
Researchers from Curtin University (Australia) have carried out their work on the study of asteroid dust. And they found out that it contains water molecules: a total of 20 liters for each cubic meter of rock. Scientists believe that the reason for the appearance of water on the asteroid was the solar wind, which consists of charged particles (mainly hydrogen ions).
Moreover, the same wind, in their opinion, brought water to the Earth: at the beginning of its existence, such dust particles crashed into our planet, forming reservoirs. At first, it was believed that the main source of water on Earth was asteroids and meteorites.
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